Cubs Play Long Ball with Dusty's Reds
Ryan Theriot had three hits, and Marlon Byrd, Mike Fontenot, and Jeff Baker mashed home runs, leading the Cubs to an 8-1 victory over Dusty Baker's Cincinnati Reds at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park under mostly cloudy skies in warm Mesa, AZ.
The Cubs got off to an early 3-0 lead, putting up a three-spot against Reds starter Carlos Fisher in the bottom of the 1st inning.
Ryan Theriot led-off with a ground single to center, and scored when Tyler Colvin crushed a one-out double off the Oregano's sign in right-centerfield. Marlon Byrd followed with a two-run homer (his team-leading 4th dinger of the Spring) off the Dos Gringos taco stand well beyond the left-centerfield fence.
Working with a 3-0 lead, Cubs starter Randy Wells mostly cruised through 5.2 IP (93 pitches - 61 strikes, 8/3 GO/FO), allowing just one run in the top of the 5th on a single, a double, and an RBI ground out. For the day, Wells scattered seven hits (five singles and two doubles), allowing one hit in five of his six innings, and then two hits in the one-run 5th. But he only walked one while striking out five (including the last batter he faced, with a runner on 2nd and one out in the 6th).
Justin Berg got the final out in the 6th (one pitch resulting in a 5-3 GO) to strand an inherited runner, and then Sean Marshall worked the 7th & 8th (34 pitches - 22 strikes), allowing a hit and a walk while striking out four (2/0 GO/FO). Marshall's curve was breaking sharply today, and really fooled the Reds hitters. Marshall's performance was very impressive.
While Marshall was mowing down the Reds, the Cubs scored two in the 7th and three in the 8th.
Facing veteran RHP Kip Wells, Geovany Soto was hit by a pitch (a glancing blow) leading off the bottom of the 7th, and then Jeff Baker and Ryan Theriot lined singles to load the bases. Kosuke Fukudome walked on a 3-1 pitch to force-in a run, and Tyler Colvin racked-up his second RBI of the game on a 6-4 FC, leaving runners at 1st & 3rd and one out. But Marlon Byrd bounced into a 4-6-4 DP to end the inning, with the Cubs ahead 5-1.
Micah Hoffpauir led-off the bottom of the 8th against Reds lefty Matt Maloney with a line single to right, and scored when Mike Fontenot crushed a HR off the Bud Lite Party Pavilion beyond the two bullpens in RF. Then with two outs, Jeff Baker slammed a home run to the base of the scoreboard beyond the fence in LF.
Rookie LHP James Russell worked a scoreless 9th (14 pitches - 12 strikes), allowing one hit and a WP around a Ks, an F-8 (nice running catch by Sam Fuld in deep left-center with his back to the infield), and a game-ending "can o' corn" F-8. (Russell has allowed just one unearned run on seven hits and three walks with nine strikeouts in 11.0 IP this Spring).
Chad Tracy had an odd day at the plate, striking out twice (both looking) and flying out to CF, but he also just missed a HR down the RF line (ball went out of the park, but foul), and then in his next AB he just missed a line-drive double down the RF line (ball landed just outside the line in foul territory).
Supposedly still battling for a spot on the Cubs 25-man roster, veteran Kevin Millar pinch-hit in the bottom of the 8th against LHP Matt Maloney and popped-up to the shortstop in short-CF. I suspect if they can't find a reason to place him on the DL, the Cubs will ask Millar to accept a 30-day vacation with Mike Wellman in Des Moines, after-which he will either get brought up to Chicago or he can have his release. By then, it should be obvious whether Tyler Colvin is getting enough playing time to justify keeping him on the 25-man roster. Or perhaps a position player will get hurt sometime in April and land on the DL, opening up a spot for Millar.
The Cubs will play the Giants tomorrow at Scottsdale Stadium.