SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- I have absolutely no doubt that if this had been a regular-season game, Matt Cain would have been allowed to stay in after throwing five perfect innings, and he likely would have completed a perfecto (he has one already), thus ending the Cubs' no-no-hit streak.
Cain was that dominant. He struck out seven of the 15 hitters he faced and only three balls left the infield.
But it wasn't a regular-season game; Cain was done after five. I didn't get a pitch count but it couldn't have been more than 50; several of the outs were on the first pitch. Anyway, the very first Cubs hitter who faced the next Giants pitcher (David Huff) singled to lead off the sixth. Then Ryan Roberts, who had broken up the no-hitter, took second on a wild pitch and scored on an Emilio Bonifacio single.
The Cubs took the lead they would keep for good in their 3-2 win over the Giants in the seventh inning when Mike Olt and Donnie Murphy singled with one out. Chris Coghlan singled in a run, and then a wild throw by Giants second baseman Tony Abreu on a double-play attempt allowed pinch-runner Christian Villanueva to score the lead run.
There wasn't much Cubs offense today; the above was about it. But it was enough due to very good pitching. Jeff Samardzija nearly matched Cain for the first three innings, allowing just one single to Pablo Sandoval, who was erased on a double play. Shark got into trouble in the fourth, when after a Mike Morse single and Hunter Pence double, Sandoval singled them both in for what was then a 2-0 Giants lead. Fortunately for the Cubs, the bullpen did stellar work Monday. Alberto Cabrera, Chris Rusin and Jonathan Sanchez threw five innings and allowed just one hit, a single by pinch-hitter Joaquin Arias in the fifth. One other Giant reached base -- briefly. Villanueva made a bad throw on a ground ball, allowing Tony Abreu to reach, but when Abreu tried to take second, Chris Valaika, who had taken over at first base from Olt, threw him out.
Rusin, in particular, was sharp. Counting the error/throw-out play, he recorded seven of his nine outs on ground balls. The first two innings were against Giants major leaguers, so that's a good sign. Will Rusin wind up with the fifth starter's role on the 25-man roster if Jake Arrieta isn't ready (and as of now, it appears he won't be)?
A sold-out (10,545) house at Scottsdale Stadium on another brilliantly sunny day (which caused some tough chances for outfielders, no balls lost in the sun today, though) saw the Cubs' fastest game of the spring, two hours and 30 minutes, more than an hour shorter than Sunday's contest. It might have been even faster but for Giants reliever George Kontos, who walked a pair of Cubs in the ninth inning, the only walks of the game.
Well, you know me. I like crisply-played games like this one, and a Cubs win is always good, even in spring training. Tuesday at Mesa, the Cubs face the Rockies, with Travis Wood going against Colorado's Jorge De La Rosa. Play fast and win again tomorrow!