Marshall Works Into 5th As Cubs Drop Mariners
Sam Fuld and Andres Blanco slammed home runs and Sean Marshall took a shutout into the 5th inning, as a Cubs "split squad" drubbed a Seattle Mariners "split squad" 8-1 in front of 10,910 happy fans at sunny Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa
The Cubs got off to a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning versus Mariners RHP Gaby Hernandez. Sam Fuld (who was on base three times today) walked with one out and stole second, and then after Derrek Lee lined out to LF, Aramis Ramirez walked. Mike Fontenot then rapped a single through the middle of the infield to score Fuld from second base and send Ramirez to third, and then A-Ram scored on a two-out wild pitch.
Sam Fuld homered over the RF fence into the Cubs bullpen leading off the bottom of the third to make it 3-0, and then Andres Blanco virtually duplicated Fuld's poke, sending another solo dinger into the Cubs bullpen with two outs in the bottom of the 4th. (Both home runs were hit off Gaby Hernandez).
Sean Marshall got the start for the Cubs and worked into the 5th, allowing one unearned run on three hits and a walk, along with three strikeouts in 4.1 IP (56 pitches - 38 strikes, 5/4 GO/FO).
Marshall had little trouble with the Mariners through the first four inning, retiring ten of the first twelve men he faced.
With the Cubs leading 4-0, Marshall started the 5th, allowing a lead-off single to Prentice Redman. The next batter tried to bunt and lined the ball right at Marshall, who made a nice play coming off the mound to nab the ball. But then the lefty tried to do too much, as he wheeled blindly toward first and whipped the ball right at the bag to try and double Redman off. Unfortunately, second-baseman Mike Fontenot hadn't gotten there yet, so the ball bounced past first-base and into the stands, as the runner was awarded third base on the overthrow.
That was it for Marshall, as RHP Luis Vizcaino (who had been warming up in the bullpen since the start of the inning) came into the game, with a runner at third and only one out. The next batter (Oswaldo Navarro) hit a sharp bouncer back at Vizcaino, but the ball bounced off the pitcher's glove for an RBI infield hit, as Redman scored from third. Vizcaino then retired the next two hitters on a F-7 and an infield pop up to end the inning (17 pitches - 10 strikes).
Mike Stanton worked a quick 6th (10 pitches - seven strikes), and while he did not allow a run, he didn't fool anybody, either, allowing two hard hit singles to the outfield (one by a left-handed hitter) to go along with two ground outs and an F-7.
The Cubs posted another single run in the bottom of the 6th off Mariners reliever Mark Lowe, as James Adduci (up from Minor League Camp for the day) drew a lead-off walk, and advanced to second and third on consecutive wild pitches. Then Mike Fontenot walked, before Reed Johnson chopped a single over the third-baseman's head to drive in Adduci with the Cubs 5th run.
Kevin Hart pitched the 7th for the Cubs, and had his best outing of the Spring, striking out the side on 17 pitches (14 strikes).
LHP Jason Waddell worked the 8th, and had mixed results (17 pitches - 11 strikes), allowing two singles to the outfield (one of which was a rope to RF by lefty-swinging Russell Branyan), but also striking out a right-handed hitter for the first out of the inning and then getting out of trouble with an inning-ending 5-3 DP.
The Cubs put the game away in the bottom of the 8th, scoring three runs off Mariners reliever Tyler Walker. James Adduci and Nate Spears (another invitee from Minor League Camp) led off with infield singles (and Adduci showed good speed down the line while beating the throw on his dribbler), and Jason Dubois was hit by a pitch on the upper left arm to load the bases with no outs. Koyie Hill then smoked a line single to RF that was hit too hard to score more than one run, and after Darwin Barney and Esteban German struck out, Richie Robnett (who had been optioned to Iowa earlier in the day) hit a fly ball into short LF where the Seattle left-fielder and shortstop collided (nobody was hurt and no error was charged, though), allowing the ball to drop for a cheap double and giving the Cubs their final two runs of the day. .
Jose Ascanio continued his fine Spring, throwing a 1-2-3 9th (6-3 GO, F-7, and strikeout swinging) to finish off the game, but he actually got four outs in the inning, because Koyie Hill failed to catch a foul pop up behind home plate (although no error was charged).
Veteran IF-OF Esteban German (signed to a minor league contract this morning after getting released by Kansas City last week) made his Cubs debut today, entering in mid-game at 3rd base. He had two poor ABs, popping up weakly, and then striking out (flailing wildly at strike three on an outside pitch in the dirt) with one out and the bases loaded in his second PA. He also didn't make much of an effort to stop a bouncer hit to his left that ended up in LF. All in all, it was not an impressive debut for German.
While the Cubs were thumping the Mariners in Mesa, the other Cubs squad traveled to Tempe Diablo Stadium and lost to the Angels, 8-2
I was not at that game, but I can tell you that Cubs starter Chad Gaudin apparently got racked up pretty good, allowing six runs on five hits and four walks in just 1.2 IP, including a 2nd inning grand slam by Kendry Morales.
The Cubs got their two runs on a two-out two-run 4th inning RBI double by Bobby Scales, although Scales (playing 2B before later moving to 3B) also made two errors in the game.
I suspect the Cubs may try to trade Gaudin and his $2M 2009 salary before Opening Day, but they also could just release him (presuming he is signed to a non-guaranteed contract).