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Pitching Is King (But Give The Hitters Credit, Too): Cubs 9, Royals 1

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Today, pitchers ruled at HoHoKam Park as the Cubs snapped their six-game losing streak by defeating the Royals 9-1. Four Cubs pitchers held the Royals to four singles and a run that probably wouldn't have scored if Jeff Samardzija hadn't uncorked a wild pitch in the third inning, his first inning of work -- the other two frames the Shark threw were just fine.

The Cubs hurlers issued no walks and struck out six. So, the best answer you can get about today's question, "Who's got the advantage in the last-starter derby, Chad Gaudin or Jeff Samardzija" is, "Inconclusive". Good to see Gaudin throw solidly for two innings, since he may wind up being a long reliever on this team.

Let's not short-shrift the offense today: Alfonso Soriano hit his 2nd homer of the spring, and Little Babe Ruth (Mike Fontenot) also slammed his second dinger and raised his spring average (Danger! Warning! Meaningless stat ahead!) to .367.

I like Fontenot a lot. While he still may have to sit against certain LHP, he shows that "sneaky power" we've all marveled at (seriously: how does a guy that small hit a ball that far, that often?). Considering he was a throw-in in a trade in which the Cubs were just trying to unceremoniously dump Sammy Sosa, the Cubs appear to have gotten real value, a starting second baseman who, at 29, can probably give the Cubs at least two or three years of good 2B play. He's shown why the Orioles spent a #1 draft pick on him in 2001.

It was also fun to see the Cubs toy with good ol' Dr. Tightpants, Kyle Farnsworth, who loaded the bases on two singles and a walk before So Taguchi cleared 'em with a triple. Sorry we're not seeing the Royals this summer on our tour of the AL Central. (It'd be fun just to listen to Denny Matthews pronounce Chad Gaw-Dan again.)

And, for the Micah Hoffpauir lovers in the audience, Erin Andrews would like you to know that he went 2-for-4, a single and a double. (For the naysayers, he struck out in his other two at-bats.)

Today's attendance of 8,987 on another coolish, 69-degree day (I'd still take that here in Chicago, 69 degrees in early March) brought the eight-game average to 9,593. It should go up later in the week, as spring breaks start and more desirable opponents (the Angels) start to show up.

Tomorrow, Lou is reunited with one of his favorite Ancient Mariners (sorry, had to do it), Ken Griffey, Jr., as the Cubs host Seattle, with Rich Harden and Aaron Heilman facing, among others, temporary Cub Garrett Olson. Ryan Dempster may also see action for the Cubs. Wednesday is an off day, and despite what you may have read elsewhere, the Cubs are, as I posted here over the weekend, playing Japan's WBC team on Thursday at Mesa. Korea, the other team coming to San Diego for round 2, will play the Dodgers on Thursday. (Korea plays the Padres on Wednesday night and Japan plays the Giants on Wednesday afternoon.)

Tonight, there are three WBC games; feel free to use this post as the discussion thread. Below are Gameday links for the three games.

Netherlands vs. Puerto Rico Gametime: 5:30 pm CDT

Italy vs. Canada (loser is eliminated) Gametime: 5:30 pm CDT

Mexico vs. South Africa (loser is eliminated) Gametime: 9 pm CDT

MLB Florida and Arizona Spring Training -
SB Nation