After the first two innings of today's first Cubs spring training game, in which the Cubs got the first five men on base, scored four runs and had two hitless innings from Carlos Zambrano, the season looked bright!
After the next two innings, in which Matt Garza gave up a grand slam to Coco Crisp and five runs overall -- not so much.
The Cubs lost to the Athletics 15-7 on a day on which the reported game time temperature in Mesa was an un-spring-training-like 49 degrees. As Pat Hughes said late in the radio broadcast, of course baseball players want to win every game. But after the first half of this game, the major league players were pretty much given the rest of the day off, and the deficit was given largely by Justin Berg -- who isn't likely to make the major league roster, and whose ERA stands at 189.00 after he faced eight batters, got only one of them out, and all seven others scored.
That's the bad. Here's the good: Carlos Marmol had a scoreless inning before the A's major leaguers left for the afternoon; Alfonso Soriano had a pair of singles and a double and both Kosuke Fukudome and Marlon Byrd added a pair of hits. As far as Garza is concerned, he may have been a little nervous for his first outing in a Cubs uniform. He got what Carrie Muskat tweeted as "his 1st hit ever, including Grapefruit League games", and got the ball as a souvenir. (In regular season interleague games, Garza is 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts.)
The other good news was the smooth debut of Keith Moreland as Pat Hughes' partner on WGN radio. All of us will miss Ron Santo, but Moreland fits right in, and of course, Pat is a true professional who was able to bring Keith into the action as if he'd always been there. Moreland did an inning of play-by-play -- what a refreshing change from hearing THE SHOUTING OF JUDD SIROTT. I hope they stick with this plan.
Attendance was 6,892, only about half capacity, not really surprising given the cold weather. We'll see if it increases tomorrow, when Randy Wells will face the Brewers at Mesa. It's the Brewers' first spring action, a split-squad game for them, which means the Cubs won't see a lot of Milwaukee regulars, since their other game is at their home in Maryvale. Tim Dillard will start for the Brewers.