MESA, Arizona -- ... this post is going to be fairly quick, as I have to leave shortly to make my flight back to Chicago.
I swear, the glaciers receded from Europe in the last Ice Age, faster than today's game, a 7-4 win over Arizona, clinching a winning spring season for the Cubs for the first time in three years. I know the game time reads only 2:47, but the first four innings slogged on, and on, and on...
Much of the reason for this is Jerome Williams. Oh, sure, his boxscore line looks good -- five innings, three hits, one run -- that is, until you see the telltale "4" under "BB". Not only that, but he ran full counts on quite a few hitters. I was surprised Dusty left him out there for five. And it would have been longer, if not for a couple of slick double plays; one an unassisted job by Derrek Lee, who snagged a Luis Gonzalez line drive and doubled Craig Counsell off first, and another nicely done by Ronny Cedeno, who looked much better in the field today (though not at the plate, going 0-for-3).
This, my friends, is your Opening Day lineup. In fact, I was pleased to see that although the dry-erase board behind the plate had Jacque Jones hitting fifth, when the lineups were officially announced, Jones was hitting sixth behind Michael Barrett. Jones "celebrated" this "demotion" by hitting a home run, and also singling. Aramis Ramirez also homered today, a three-run job in the first, his fifth of the spring, off Orlando Hernandez.
They call him El Duckie or something like that, right? I don't want to say he's old, but he and Fidel Castro were elementary school chums...
At least that's what I heard.
OK, off the stupid-joke soapbox for now. Hernandez is "officially" 40 years old, but might be five or six years older, and he looked it today... the Cubs got nine hits off him and even the outs were hit hard.
About that lineup, I know hitting three right-handed hitters in a row (Lee, Ramirez, Barrett) might not be conventional wisdom, but Jones isn't a five-hitter. He might be more successful hitting sixth. Matt Murton is solid in the 7 slot -- today, two more hits and a walk, although I couldn't understand it when, after he advanced to second after the walk, he was sent home to score on a Todd Walker single.
Murton's slow, folks. He was out by twenty feet.
OK, it's a spring game, and worth testing someone's arm, just to see what happens.
Don't do this sort of thing come Monday.
It was an in-and-out cloudy day today, seemed sort of spring-breaky at Ho Ho Kam (another sellout, 12,879), a lot more kids than I'd seen on other days, even weekend days. And He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-Here was nowhere to be heard, thank goodness.
Rich Hill, who has been touted by many of you as someone who should have made the starting rotation -- nope. He walked three and gave up two hits and two runs, and looked nothing like a major league pitcher. Neither, for that matter, did Bob Howry, who came in to throw the 9th, promptly hit the first batter he faced, and then allowed a single, a walk, a VERY long fly ball for a sacrifice fly, before getting a comebacker for the last out.
All of this was against miscellaneous Diamondbacks minor leaguers, not a good sign. It got bad enough that Dusty had Ryan Dempster warming up.
Anyway... thus ends the Arizona portion of spring training, and my stay here. Back to Chicago tonight, and will be back here, from there, tomorrow.