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Cubs 5, Dodgers 3: Byrd Is The Word. Reds 10, Cubs 0: Enough Said

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The Cubs and Dodgers headed to extra innings today, and as Len & Bob mentioned on the telecast, basically played until they ran out of pitchers. It wound up as a 5-3 Cubs win in 10 innings, thanks to a walkoff two-run homer from D.J. LeMahieu. Regarding the possibility of a tie -- ties are more common now in spring training games than they used to be. I recall seeing the Cubs and Giants play a 12-inning game several years ago that wound up in a tie that lasted almost four hours. But now, when teams play in essence just to get players' work in and to work on situational hitting and not necessarily to win, ten innings was enough, and fortunately for the Cubs, they put on a good show for the WGN-TV audience.

Marlon Byrd was indeed the word today; he had two more doubles and went 3-for-3; he's now 9-for-15 (.600) in spring play with four doubles. Ryan Dempster became the first Cubs starter to go four innings, and he threw effectively, giving up only three hits and a run, with no walks and three strikeouts, before spending some time in the stands late in the game signing autographs and talking to fans -- just the kind of guy he is. Carlos Marmol threw a typical Marmol inning -- with three strikeouts and a walk, and occasionally throwing a pitch over a batter's head.

The game at Goodyear is barely worth writing about. The Reds beat the Cubs 10-0 and the Cubs managed only two hits, a second-inning single by Marquez Smith and ninth-inning single from Starlin Castro. Smith also drew a walk, as did Brett Jackson. Those were the Cubs' only baserunners today and I think it's merciful that we didn't get to see Trey McNutt pitch on TV, because he had a rough outing, throwing only two-thirds of an inning and giving up two hits, three walks and four earned runs, including a HR allowed to Zack Cozart, who has little chance of making the Reds roster. This is McNutt's first major league camp and clearly, he's still a year or two away from seriously contending for the rotation. Todd Wellemeyer, who does have a shot at making the team, started and threw two competent, if not great, innings.

Attendance watch (you knew this was coming, right?) -- today's crowd in Mesa was almost 20% smaller than yesterday's, which is a bit of a surprise. In past years, a Sunday, even this early in March, with the Dodgers as the opponent, would have been a near-sellout. Today's attendance of 8,669 makes the average for five dates at HoHoKam 7,528. At this pace the total Cubs attendance for spring training will be the lowest since 2003. Other attendance figures today: Cubs/Reds in Goodyear, 4,518; Royals/White Sox in Glendale, 4,197; Diamondbacks/Angels in Tempe, 7,228; Brewers/Athletics in Phoenix, 2,963; Brewers/Angels in Surprise, 6,503; Giants/Mariners in Scottsdale, 10,980 and Indians/Rockies at Salt River, 10,030. (At the time of this post, Athletics/Padres in Peoria was in the ninth inning, tied.) All of those seem low except for the new complex at Salt River, which has the "new ballpark smell", and the game in Scottsdale featuring the defending World Champions.

One thing that was interesting to see on TV: a home team wearing white (pinstripes) and a visiting team wearing gray. Most teams wear practice jerseys in spring training, sometimes, comically as in the case of a Reds/Angels game earlier this week, both wearing red. The white vs. gray is more traditional -- I liked it.

Tomorrow, the Angels visit Mesa; it will be Carlos Silva's first start since the... well, you know. Dan Haren goes for the Angels.