MESA, Arizona -- Before I get to the recap of the Cubs' 8-5 win over the Giants in front of another sellout at Sloan Park (15,324), let me tell you a little story about what happened before the game.
Literally within seconds after the gates opened -- I wasn't even halfway down the concourse to the left-field berm -- the fire alarm went off and an announcement was heard that "selective evacuations" might be necessary.
I looked around. No smoke, no flames, no one running away from any particular area. Everyone pretty much was going about their business. So I went and sat in my usual spot on the berm; people continued to go about their business for about 20 minutes or so, when a security person asked everyone to leave the berm. OK, I thought, and went and sat in the shade (welcome on another 95-degree day) for a while.
Turns out there was a broken water pipe in the concession stand behind the berm (I had noticed, unusually, that this stand was closed when I walked in), which somehow caused the fire sprinklers to go off, causing the alarm. They held people at the gates for all that time, and when the all-clear was finally sounded, the gates opened and people walked in and back to the berm in quite orderly fashion. Kudos to the Cubs employees, Mesa police and security who handled this in a professional and friendly way.
When the game started, Kyle Hendricks began dousing Giants hitters. As we always like to say: "All He Does Is Get Guys Out." Through the first five innings, Hendricks gave up just three hits, struck out four, and didn't allow a runner past second base.
In the sixth, though, he ran out of gas, not surprising on another torrid day. Joe Panik homered, the first of five consecutive Giants to reach base. They took a 5-4 lead in the inning, ruining Hendricks' pitching line on a day he otherwise threw quite well. Jorge De Leon gave up a couple of hits in the inning before Phil Coke finished it off with a strikeout.
The Cubs fashioned that 4-0 lead on single runs in each of the first four innings, helped in part by Hendricks' bat. He singled and scored twice. Other Cubs hitting stars in the early innings: Dexter Fowler tripled and scored on a Chris Coghlan double. Anthony Rizzo singled and stole second, before scoring on a Tommy La Stella double. TLS went 2-for-4, and Jonathan Herrera had three hits.
The Cubs came from behind in the bottom of the sixth with a nice rally that included hits by Jorge Soler, Starlin Castro, Herrera and a bases-loaded HBP from Welington Castillo, who came in to pinch-hit for David Ross. This could be Joe Maddon's way of experimenting with having three catchers on the roster. The bench moves today seemed a bit more regular-season than most recent ones; the only player in today's game who was not from either the 40-man roster or the NRI list was Ryan Dent, a recent acquisition from (where else) the Red Sox, who pinch-hit in the eighth and eventually scored when Castillo laid down a perfectly placed squeeze bunt.
The two halves of the sixth inning, in which 19 total men batted and there were three pitching changes, took 45 minutes. That's okay -- it wasn't slow-paced, there was just a lot going on! The teams combined for eight runs on nine hits, a pair of walks and a hit batsman in the inning,
After the Cubs re-took the lead the bullpen was excellent. Jason Motte, who has struggled lately, had a quick 1-2-3 seventh. Joseph Ortiz gave up a single in the eighth but was unscored upon, and Zac Rosscup finished up for his third spring save by striking out the side (granted, it was Giants minor leaguers, including former Cub Brett Jackson, but still nicely done).
The crowd put the Cubs' season total to 209,040, an average of 14,931. The Cubs stand 4,776 people away from breaking last year's all-time spring attendance mark of 213,815, and they ought to break that record on Wednesday.
Tonight at 9 p.m. CT, Cubs and Rangers minor leaguers will play a "Futures Game." No lineups are available now and there's no live coverage of this game -- I'm not going -- but we already know Corey Black and C.J. Edwards will pitch for the Cubs. BCB's Danny Rockett told me he's going to go to this game, so we'll have a report from him in the morning. (He promised to recap the baseball action as well as the atmosphere.) If you are in the area and want to go, tickets are $6 and some of the proceeds are going to charity.
The big-league Cubs head to Surprise for the second time in three days to face the big-league Rangers Tuesday afternoon. Eric Jokisch will pitch against Derek Holland. Jon Lester is expected to throw in a minor-league game at the Cubs complex in Mesa.