SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- I promise not to use "Volstad Act" too many times this year.
But it seems appropriate today, as the Cubs' new acquisition gave at least some hope that he can perform as well as Carlos Zambrano, for whom he was traded in January.
Chris Volstad threw three solid innings, got seven of his nine outs on ground balls and the Cubs hung on for a 5-4 win over the Giants in front of a sellout crowd of 11,447 at Scottsdale Stadium; several people there told me they had come there instead of going to Talking Stick to see the Diamondbacks. That game was also sold out. It appears that the Cactus League is going to have a strong rebound in attendance this year.
Regarding Volstad, many times when baseball management sees a guy that big (6-8), they figure he should be a power pitcher. Not so with Volstad; his best stuff is his offspeed stuff and a really nice sinker, which was working well this afternoon. That would be a useful skill in Wrigley Field, especially when the wind is blowing in. If Volstad keeps this up, I believe the Cubs have their No. 4 starter. Volstad even had a hit, a solid single to left, and scored the Cubs' first run.
The Cubs were set down by Madison Bumgarner in the first two innings but then pushed a pair of runs across in the third and another in the fourth. Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and Josh Vitters drove in the three runs, Vitters with a pinch-hit triple with two out.
After that, the Cubs' bullpen did a decent job -- up until Andy Sonnanstine, and maybe you guys were right about him. He doesn't seem to have much, although he gave up at least one more run than he should have, due to consecutive misplays by Blake DeWitt, inserted at third base in the sixth inning. With two out, DeWitt fielded a slow roller and tried to tag Chris Stewart running from second to third instead of taking the sure third out at first. The next hitter, Tyler Graham, bunted, and DeWitt again couldn't make the play. That allowed a run to score.
It was fortunate, then, that Anthony Rizzo had slammed a two-run homer with two out in the seventh to make the score 5-1. The ball landed halfway up the party patio behind the right field bullpen, a blast of around 430 feet. No doubt, Rizzo can hit. The Cubs needed every one of those runs, and even then, Alberto Cabrera had a shaky ninth inning -- issuing the only walk of the game to Mike Fontenot -- before getting Gregor Blanco to fly to right to end it.
We were also treated to the unusual sight of Ryan Theriot playing third base for an inning -- he hasn't played there since he had eight games there for the 2007 Cubs. He did have one chance, a routine ground ball.
Randy Wells will start tomorrow against the Brewers in Mesa and Travis Wood is also expected to throw, sharing time but reversing the roles they had in their last game. Randy Wolf will go for Milwaukee.