MESA, Arizona -- So the Cubs' schedule for this month shows them with an off day Thursday. Apparently the team misread it and decided to take today off instead.
Rimshot! Thank you! I'll be here all week! Don't forget to tip your server!
Well, that was bad. And so was the game. And when I mean bad, I don't have much good at all to tell you about the Cubs' 13-0 loss to the Rockies. Oh, here's something: yet another Cubs spring training and Cactus League attendance record was set: 14,840 paid to see this game under yet another stunningly beautiful March Arizona sky, temperatures in the high 70s, a nice breeze and... I said that was about it, right? More on attendance below, but I also learned today that all but two of the remaining games at Cubs Park are sold out (the games against the Angels, March 17 and March 25, still have tickets left).
One thing we learned today by seeing Darwin Barney at shortstop. Though he has a slick glove and fields pretty much everything he gets to flawlessly, he doesn't seem to have the range to play shortstop. He knocked down a first-inning bouncer that would have ended the inning -- a major-league shortstop needs to make that play -- a run scored, and then Nolan Arenado, the trailing runner, was thrown out at third.
Barney also let a ball get by him in the third inning; by then, that was the fifth straight hit in the inning off Travis Wood, and Wood got pounded for four runs in that inning after retiring the first two hitters easily on groundouts. So Wood's line: 2⅔ innings, nine hits, five earned runs -- could have looked better if a couple of playable ground balls had been fielded. Also in that inning, Junior Lake completely lost a fly ball in the sun. No, that's not an error, since he pretty much gave up on it as it landed behind him.
Hector Rondon was responsible for most of the rest of the damage. He allowed a pair of home runs, one to Nolan Arenado, who went 3-for-3 with two RBI, and one to Kent Matthes, who I had not heard of before this day. Rondon allowed five hits and six earned runs while recording only four outs. Colorado's Ryan Wheeler completed the scoring, off Chang-yong Lim, with yet another two-run homer. Lim's chances of making this roster are pretty dim.
Ha! I crack myself up.
Which was about the only thing you could do with a game like this. The Cubs had five hits and three walks, but managed to get only four baserunners past first base. It was the kind of day where someone could say (and foolishly, I did, to friends in the ninth inning): "If Logan Watkins doesn't hit into a double play, Kris Bryant will get a chance to bat!"
Boom! Next pitch, Watkins hits into a game-ending double play. It was that kind of day.
Brett Jackson drew one of the Cubs' three walks. He also walked Monday in his only plate appearance. Personally, I think Jackson ought to be getting more playing time, certainly ahead of guys like Darnell McDonald. If Jackson's going to make it, now is the time. Why not find out what he can do? Here's an article about Jackson's "new approach", which sounds pretty positive.
Carlos Pimentel, who has next-to-no chance of making this roster, threw two decent innings, and Brian Schlitter threw a good ninth. Tony Zych, a product of St. Rita High School in Chicago who should be slated for Iowa this year, came on to bail Rondon out in the seventh and recorded two quick outs. I like Zych and he's a dark horse to make the bullpen, perhaps by late this year or early next.
Really, that's it, except for one further note about attendance. The crowd of 14,840 makes the total for seven dates at Cubs Park 92,863, an average of 13,266 per date. That puts the Cubs on pace to draw almost 199,000 for the spring, even with the loss of one date to rain. That would be very close to the all-time spring-training total attendance record for any team, which was set by the Cubs in 2009: 203,105. That was set in 19 dates. The Cubs will have just 15 home dates this season.
Wednesday, the first spring night game for the Cubs will see them travel to Peoria to take on the Mariners. James McDonald will start for the Cubs, and will face Seattle's Randy Wolf (wow, he's still around?). The game is being televised by the Mariners' network, ROOT Sports Seattle, and is being picked up by MLB Network, so you can watch there, or online if you have a MLB.TV subscription.
Perhaps the Cubs will even score some runs.