Chad Thompson and three relievers combined to toss a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts and Tucker Neuhaus singled, walked twice, scored a run, and drove-in another, as the Brewers celebrated "Cinco de Mayo" with a 6-2 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Maryvale Baseball Park Field #7 (AKA "Paul Molitor Field") in Phoenix, AZ.

Jorge Soler drove-in both Cub runs with a 1st inning F-8 sacrifice fly to the warning track in CF and a 3rd inning two-out RBI ground-single through the box, and Rashad Crawford reached base three times (two BB and an HBP), stole two bases, and scored both Cub runs. 

Soler also struck out (swinging) on a 2-2 breaking ball in the 5th and grounded out 6-3 in the 8th.

In 30 Plate Appearances over six Cactus League EXST games, Soler is hitting 200/267/240 with five hits (four singles and a double), five RBI, two sacrifice flies, no walks, three HBP, six strikeouts, and one stolen base.   

Julio Pena smacked a three-run home run off Joel Pineiro and RHP Chris Johnson threw four innings of one-run ball and struck out six (including Jorge Soler twice), leading the Giants to a 6-2 victory over the Cubs on Field #6, and Will Callaway, Brad Moss, and Fernando Pujadas stroked RBI doubles as the Giants edged the Cubs 6-5 on Field #5, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.  

Jeffrey Baez laced an RBI triple and a double and scored a run and RHP Trevor Clifton threw 2.2 IP of shutout relief with five strikeouts in a losing cause for the Cubs on Field #5, and Mark Malave accounted for both Cub runs on Field #6 with an RBI double and an RBI single.

Jorge Soler (hamstring rehab) played RF for seven innings on Field #6 and batted six times, once in each of the first six innings, He struck out (swinging) on a 1-2 pitch in the bottom of the 1st, was called out on strikes on a 1-2 pitch in the 2nd, bounced-out 6-3 in the 3rd, roped a line-drive single to left (and then stole 2nd base!) in the 4th, reached base on an HBP (he was hit on the right inner elbow) in the 5th (his 3rd HBP in five EXST games this week), and then he struck out (swinging) on a pitch over his head in his final AB in the 6th.

While he is still a bit rusty at the plate (he is hitting only 182/269/227 with no walks, five strikeouts, three HBP, and four hits--three singles and a double--in 26 EXST PA), he is running and playing outfield defense without any apparent difficulty, and so today could very well be the end of his EXST rehab. So don't be surprised if he is back with AA Tennessee by Monday. 

35-year old veteran MLB RHP Joel Pineiro was the starting pitcher for the Cubs on Field #6, his fifth EXST outing since signing with the Cubs on March 30th. Pineiro worked five innings (62 pitches), allowing three runs (all earned) on five hits (three singles, a double, and the Pena three-run HR), and two walks. He struck out only one, but had a 10/4 GO/FO.

THE PITCHING LINES FROM JOEL PINEIRO'S FIVE 2014 EXST OUTINGS
4/12 - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 8/0 GO/FO, 64 pitches (48 strikes)
4/17 - 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 PO, 7/2 GO/FO, 66 pitches (43 strikes)
4/22 - 4.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R (7 ER), 2 BB, 3 K, 3/3 GO/FO, 76 pitches (51 strikes)
4/28 - 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 7 K, 1 WP, 4/4 GO/FO, 60 pitches (45 strikes) 
5/3   - 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R (3 ER), 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 2 GIDP, 10/4 GO/FO, 62 pitches (42 strikes)  
TOTAL: 22.2 IP, 27 H, 18 R (16 ER), 6 BB, 17 K, 1 HR, 3 WP, 2 GIDP, 32/13 GO/FO, 70% strikes, 6.35 ERA, 1.46 WHIP

Both games were stopped by mutual-agreement after 7-1/2 innings.

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):

Shilo McCall lined a walk-off two-run double into the left-centerfield alley with two outs in the bottom of the 9th to cap a three-run rally as the Giants edged the Cubs 4-3 on Field #1, and Arnaldo Calero looped an RBI single over the second-baseman's head into short right field to tie the game in the top of the 8th and Tyler Alamo shot a sharp grounder through the box into CF for what turned out to be the game-winning RBI single in the top of the 9th, as the Cubs derailed the Giants 2-1 on Field #2, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at Indian School Park in Scottsdale, AZ. 

RHPs Erick Leal and Trevor Graham were the starting pitchers for the Cubs, and both threw three innings of shutout ball. Leal had the more-impressive outing of the two because he had to pitch around two errors, striking out four and inducing two timely DP grounders to get out of trouble. RHP Luis Hernandez "piggybacked" with Leal and also threw three innings (the three middle innings) on Field #1, although he did surrender a run, two hits, and three walks.  

Jorge Soler continued his EXST rehab assignment with Squad "A" on Field #2, playing RF for five innings and getting a total of five Plate Appearances (one in each of the first five innings). He went hitless in the game, although he did reach base once. Specifically he grounded out 6-3 in the 1st inning, was called out on strikes (a three-pitch AB) in the 2nd, reached base after being hit by a pitch (left shoulder) in the 3rd, grounded out 6-3 again the 4th, and flied out to the warning track in front of the Batter's Eye in CF (400+ feet from home plate) in the 5th.

In four EXST games this week, Soler has totaled 20 Plate Appearances. He is 3-17 with an RBI double (line drive into the LF corner) and two singles (both ground singles, one of which drove-in a run), two fly outs (one of which was an RBI sacrifice fly), ten ground outs (all ten being one or two-hop choppers hit to the left-side of the infield), and he reached base on an E-1. He has struck out twice (once swinging and once looking), and he has reached base twice on an HBP (he was hit in the lower back and on the left shoulder). He has yet to draw a walk  He has played RF twice (both times for five innings), and he does not appear to be favoring his right leg while running, although he has been just jogging to 1st base on the ground outs. 

Here are the abridged box scores from the two games (Cubs players only):

Nataniel Delgado belted an RBI triple and a double and scored a run, Brandon Bayardi stroked two RBI singles, and veteran MLB LHP Sean Burnett (2013 elbow surgery rehab) and five relievers combined to toss a three-hitter with ten strikeouts, as the Angels defeated the Cubs 4-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

Jorge Soler (hamstring injury rehab) played RF for five innings (first time he has played in the outfield in about a month) and batted once in each of the first five innings, going 0-5 with five ground outs.

RHP Dallas Beeler continued his EXST rehab assignment, throwing 6.1 IP (60 pitches - 44 strikes) and allowing three runs (all earned) on six hits (five singles and a triple) and a walk, while striking out two and (once again) getting a ton of ground balls (12/3 GO/FO, plus another grounder that turned into an error). 

THE PITCHING LINES FROM DALLAS BEELER'S FOUR EXST OUTINGS
4/14 - 2.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 4 K, 2/1 GO/FO, 41 pitches (31 strikes) 
4/19 - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (1 ER), 2 BB, 4 K, 7/1 GO/FO, 63 pitches (44 strikes)
4/25 - 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 1 K, 1 PO, 9/2 GO/FO, 68 pitches (45 strikes)  
4/30 - 6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R (3 ER), 1 BB, 2 K, 12/3 GO/FO, 60 pitches (44 strikes) 
TOTAL: 18.0 IP, 21 H, 9 R (9 ER), 4 BB, 11 K, 1 PO, 30/6 GO/FO, 71% strikes, 4.50 ERA, 1.39 WHIP

Jorge Soler drilled an RBI double and later scored on an Oliver Zapata two-run single in the 1st, and singled and subsequently scored on an errant pick-off attempt in the 2nd, as the Cubs took advantage of eight errors to crush the Athletics 11-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.  

Cub relievers retired the last 16 A's in a row to seal the victory. 

Oliver Zapata ripped a two-run triple and an RBI single, Adonis Paula singled, doubled, and scored two runs, Rashad Crawford reached base on a double, a walk, and an HBP, and scored three runs, and Trevor Clifton and Hector Perez threw three shutout innings a piece, leading the Cubs to an 8-4 victory over the Diamondbacks on Jackrabbit Field, and Ryan Kinsella belted an RBI double and an RBI triple, helping the D'backs rally from a five-run deficit to edge the Cubs 7-6 on Whirlwind Field, in Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader action this morning at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.

Gleyber Torres collected three hits, stole a base, and scored two runs in a losing cause for Squad "A" on Whirlwind Field.

The major league team is going through the motions of a 100-loss season and is frankly, boring as hell right now. There's plenty to keep our eyes on if we need a baseball fix, will Castro and Rizzo rebound/improve, is Olt a legitimate starter or just a platoon-mate, can Barney, Schierholtz and Hammel do enough to get some trade value in return and what exactly will Samardzija's trade value be in June/July? But the answers to those questions aren't coming for awhile and neither are the future questions in Baez, Bryant and the rest of the minor leaguers, but I find the hope in their bats and arms far more interesting than the reality of the Chicago High Draft Picks currently playing in Milwaukee.

Elliot Soto belted a bases-loaded triple in the 2nd, walked in the 4th, and singled and scored in the 6th, Varonex Cuevas drilled three singles and scored two runs, Rashad Crawford drove-in three runs with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly, and Jeffrey Baez singled and tripled and scored a run, leading the Cubs to a 7-3 victory over the Rockies in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Dust Storm Field at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick Resort east of Scottsdale, AZ.   

Roney Alcala singled, doubled, and tripled, drove-in two runs, and scored another, Gleyber Torres reached base three times on a triple, a single, and an HBP, and scored a run, Zak Blair ripped an RBI single and an RBI triple, and LHSP Jose Paulino tossed three innings of no run/no hit ball, leading the Cubs to a 9-6 victory over the Giants on Field #6, and Craig Massoni singled and scored in the 7th and clubbed a two-run home run in the 8th as the Giants rallied for four runs over the final three innings to beat the Cubs 4-2 on Field #5, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ. 

RHP Zak Hermans threw three innings of one-hit shutout ball and Eloy Jimenez knocked-in both Cub runs (RBI double in the 1st and RBI single in the 6th) in a losing cause on Field #5. 

Roney Alcala singled twice, doubled, stole a base, and scored two runs, and Antonio Valerio singled twice, doubled, and collected two RBI, as the Cubs rallied for three runs in the 9th and defeated the Angels 5-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning at Diablo Park Field #7 in Tempe, AZ.

Gabriel Santana drove-in four runs with two RBI doubles and an RBI single and Scott Masik doubled twice, walked, scored three runs, and knocked in two more, helping the Athletics thrash Joel Pineiro and the Cubs 10-3 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #2 (AKA "Connie Mack Field") at the Papago Park Baseball Facility in Phoenix, AZ.

Rashad Crawford walloped a game-tying solo home run over the RF fence in the bottom of the 6th and Luis Hernandez threw three innings of shutout relief, as the Cubs and Diamondbacks played to a 1-1 tie on Field #5, and Carlos Hernandez tossed four innings of one-hit shutout ball and combined with four D'back relievers to blank the Cubs 2-0 on Field #6, in a Cactus League Extended Spring Training split-squad doubleheader played this morning at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

Shamil Ubiera hammered three doubles and a single, scored two runs, and collected four RBI, Varonex Cuevas drilled an RBI single, doubled, drew two walks, and scored a run, and Bryant Flete reached base four times on three singles and a walk and scored a run, as the Cubs thumped the Rockies 9-2 in Cactus League Extended Spring Training action this morning on Field #6 at the Under Armour Performance Center at Riverview Park in Mesa, AZ.

Ubiera had three hits (a single, a double, and a triple) against the Giants yesterday, so in two games over a period of two days Ubiera has collected seven hits (four doubles, two singles, and a triple) in 9 PA. In two seasons with the DSL Cubs (2012-13), the 21-year old RH hitting outfielder hit 297/367/446 with 42 doubles, four triples, eight HR, and 97 RBI, 89 runs scored, 27 SB (14 CS), and a 43/83 BB/K in 134 games (569 PA), while playing all three OF positions (mainly RF).     

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