This one felt real nice, even though listening to it via the A's MLB.com announcer was painful -- yes, he mentioned the World Series drought. I think any baseball broadcaster who brings that up again should be sent back to Broadcasting 101: "How To Broadcast Without Cliches".
Anyway, the Cubs beat the A's easily 6-4, leading from the bottom of the first inning's first pitch. That pitch was hit out of the park by Alfonso Soriano (off ex-Cub Sean Gallagher), one of three homers hit by Cubs today -- Jake Fox hit his second as he tried to make Lou and the brass notice that he's still around, and Aramis Ramirez slammed a three-run shot, his first of the year. (A-Ram's homer was off Jerry Blevins, who went to the A's in the Jason Kendall deal in 2007.) Temperatures in Mesa again hit 80 degrees, but the crowd of 6,520 was smallish (probably the non-marquee opponent and the day of the week) and the five-game average dropped to 8,752.
Sean Marshall looks great, doesn't he? Three perfect innings, one strikeout, and Marshall is making a real case to nail down the fifth spot in the rotation. Lou has said in the past that he'd like to have a pair of lefties in the bullpen, and maybe if Aaron Heilman does well enough this spring, he could rotate those two in and out of the rotation, using them as relievers in the interim, in order to avoid burning either one of them out -- I still worry about Marshall's endurance over the long season.
Other good performances today: scoreless innings from Kevin Gregg and Luis Vizcaino, and a walk and a pair of runs scored by Ryan Theriot. The A's made two throwing errors in the third inning, resulting in both Cub runs (on Fox's HR), accounting for the margin of victory.
Not-so-good: Andrew Cashner, who probably didn't have much of a chance to make the team anyway this year, got cuffed around and Neal Cotts had to bail him out. Esmailin Caridad, who will probably spend this year at Double-A, issued a hit and a walk, but nailed down the save.
The good news is that there are only a handful of games left in the spring that aren't available on some media outlet, either over-the-air radio, MLB Audio, or a TV outlet. Those games are: 3/10 vs. Sea, 3/12 vs. WBC, 3/13 vs. LAA (split squad), 3/19 vs. Sea, and 3/24 vs. Col. Here's the broadcast schedule for the rest of the spring:
3/4 vs. Cle: WGN Radio 3/4 vs. Sox: WGN-TV 3/5 vs. Sox: WGN-TV, WSCR 3/6 vs. LA: WGN Radio 3/7 vs. Mil: WTMJ 3/8 vs. Tex: KRLD 3/9 vs. KC: KCSP 3/13 vs. Sea: KIRO 3/14 vs. LAA: WGN-TV, WGN Radio 3/15 vs. Ari: KTAR 3/16 vs. Mil: WGN Radio 3/17 vs. LA: MLB.com 3/18 vs. SF: MLB.com 3/20 vs. SD: WGN-TV, WGN Radio 3/21 vs. Sox: WGN-TV, MLBN, WGN Radio 3/22 vs. Sea: CSN Chicago 3/23 vs. Oak: MLB.com 3/26 vs. SF: MLBN, MLB.com 3/27 vs. Sox: WGN-TV, WSCR 3/28 vs. Col: WGN Radio 3/29 vs. Cle: WGN Radio 3/30 vs. KC: CSN Chicago, KCSP 3/31 vs. LAA: MLBN 4/1 vs. Oak: MLB.com 4/2 vs. Cle: WTAM 4/3 vs. NYY: MLBN 4/4 vs. NYY: CSN Chicago, WGN Radio
Tomorrow, there will be two games, as noted above: the Cubs make their first visit to the Indians' new complex at Goodyear (Chad Gaudin will face Carl Pavano) in a day game (2:05 CST) and the Cubs and White Sox will face off in Las Vegas at 9:05 CST (WGN-TV, Jeff Samardzija against John Danks). Len & Bob will be the broadcast team for both TV games from Vegas; I'm looking forward to seeing the game, it's been too long since a televised game. There will be two separate game threads tomorrow, one as usual in the afternoon, another for you late-night owls.