This time I'm SURE the game was on WGN-TV (because that's how I watched it), so I'm not going to go into a complete review of the game, but the White Sox defeated the Cubs 7-6 yesterday at VERY hot (upper 90's) Tucson Electric Park.
Angel Guzman got the start, and went 3.1 IP. He threw 63 pitches (8/28/10/17), and was probably removed when he was because he was pitching with a 60-65 pitch limit. It was that 28 pitch second inning that was his downfall, because by the 4th, he was laboring and out of gas.
Although Gooz was throwing his fastball consistently 94-96, he was unable to finish-off hitters, especially Juan Uribe (recently released from jail), who had an incredible eleven-pitch AB in the 2nd (including six foul balls) before finally drawing a walk. Guzman threw a lot of first-pitch strikes (which is good, because that's his #1 problem) and had two strikes on a number of hitters, but no strikeouts. He had both a good curve and a good change-up that he was able to throw for strikes (he throws the curve to right-handed hitters and the change-up to left-handed hitters).
Guzman was also the victim of a couple of misplays in the outfield in the 2nd inning. Felix Pie threw to 3rd base instead of to 2nd (allowing the batter-runner to take 2nd and remove the force-out opportunity), and Cliff Floyd first failed to catch and then overrran a hump-back line-drive "triple" to LF, with the ball bouncing merrily to the fence as both runners scored.
All in all, I thought Guzman looked OK. Not great, but a typical Cactus League-type pitching performance. (As some of you may have noticed, the Cactus League is an extreme "hitter's league"). At least Guzman is healthy and throwing strikes with plus velocity. He definitely warrants further consideration before a final decision is made on the #5 starter, although having a minor league option available will hurt his chances, since Hendry probably would prefer to keep both Wade Miller and Guzman in the organization, and if Miller doesn't make the Opening Day roster, he will probably be traded.
Ryan O'Malley, Rocky Cherry, Roberto Novoa, Michael Wuertz, and Carmen Pignatiello all worked in the game, too, and Cherry looked good in relief of O'Malley, although he did allow one inherited run to score on a ground ball the Cubs could not turn into an inning-ending DP. In his one full inning of work, Cherry surrendered a walk and a single, but also got two strikeouts. And Novoa looked even better (1-2-3 inning with a K), easily the best I've seen him throw so far this Spring.
Michael Wuertz, who has been battling a sore shoulder, made his ST debut, and threw the ball pretty well, both his fastball and his slider. He gave up two singles, but no runs, and he threw strikes (one strikeout). Hopefully, Wuertz can stay healthy and be ready for Opening Day. That would mean the Cubs can take their time with Kerry Wood's strained triceps, although hopefully he will be 100% by Opening Day, too.
Carmen Pignatiello was ineffective in the 9th, giving up a walk to Jim Thome and a single to Paul Konerko, before long-time Cub-killer Rob Mackowiak singled in the winning run.
As far as Cubs offensive highlights are concerned, Matt Murton hit a solo home run onto the street in the 2nd inning, and Casey McGehee lined a game-tying bases-loaded bases-clearing double into right-center off Sox closer Bobby Jenks (who had a terrible outing), as the Cubs rallied to tie the game in the top of the 9th. Unforturnately, McGehee was subsequently doubled-off base on a line drive, and so the Cubs could not push across the go-ahead run. Ronny Cedeno demonstrated that he might finally be learning the lessons taught by Lou Piniella and Gerald Perry, as he took an outside pitch to RF for an RBI single in the 5th. (Piniella and Perry want Cedeno to shoot pitches on the outside corner to RF, instead of trying to pull everything). And after a 9th inning single, Jake Fox is now hitting .600.
The Cubs return to HoHoKam Park today (Saturday) for a long ago sold-out St. Patrick's Day game versus the San Diego Padres that will be televised all over the solar system on WGN-TV.
Question to ponder: Will the Cubs wear their green uniforms today, or just green hats?