SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Now here's a first -- a Cactus League game ended early because of high winds.
The Cubs lost to the Giants 5-3, breaking a six-game spring winning streak, in a game where the game-time wind was clocked at 27 MPH (sustained) and it must have been gusting up to 45+ MPH. When I got into my car after it was all over the temperature gauge there read 63 degrees, but it felt a lot colder than that. The crowd, a sellout of 11,999 (with many Cub fans very audible), had thinned out to maybe 2,000 by the fourth or fifth inning -- the wind was picking up tremendous amounts of dust, visibly blowing the players' uniforms around and making good baseball play nearly impossible.
So it's really not easy to judge anyone's performance tonight. Barry Zito struck out the side in the first inning and for a while, seemed to have that old 12-to-6 curveball that he made famous in Oakland working. But by the third inning, he had allowed a homer to Milton Bradley (a blast into the right-field party deck that would have been a monster shot, wind or no wind, any day), and later, four hits generated two more runs and gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Zito pitched well -- some of those hits in the fifth probably wouldn't have been so on most other days.
Meanwhile, Sean Marshall, who came into tonight's start with only one walk in 19.1 innings this spring, could not find the strike zone. He issued two walks in the first inning, got out of it, then walked one more in each of the next three innings, helping lead to a pair of Giants runs. His overall line doesn't look too bad (two runs in four innings), but the five walks showed a lack of command. Whether that was due to the terrible weather conditions or something else remains to be seen. Marshall's next outing will be against the Angels in Mesa next Tuesday, a day on which we presume it will be less windy.
Bradley had a nice day, with a single and walk in addition to the homer, and making a good catch in right field. Ordinarily, I wouldn't say that catch would be anything other than routine, but nothing was routine on a day when dust and trash were blowing all over the place. Fred Lewis, the Giants' left fielder, made a nice running grab of a Geovany Soto fly ball in the sixth that appeared to be going over his head.
Carlos Marmol gave up the runs that put the Giants ahead to stay in the fifth inning, hitting Lewis, who was the first batter he faced (this sort of thing is getting a little alarming with Marmol!) and then allowing two solid hits, leading to the two runs. Aaron Heilman wasn't much better, and I confess I didn't see it -- the wind and cold was getting so bad by the middle of the sixth that I left, and arriving back home I was a little surprised to see that they had acknowledged the bad weather by calling the game in the middle of the seventh. That meant that Kevin Hart and Angel Guzman, who were to throw tonight, had their outings postponed until at least tomorrow.
When, we trust, the wind will have died down and the sun will return. Nice to see Jessica tonight, along with her friend who lives here who posts at this site as azjazzman. Until then.