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Diamondbacks 5, Cubs 1: Two Days To Go

The Cubs looked rather listless in the first of two games at Chase Field, except for the pinch-homer (above) by Travis Wood.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

I have to be honest with all of you.

I was only kind of half-listening to the Cubs' 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks Friday evening in my car driving the last couple of hours of a very long day from Amarillo to Chicago. I did manage to get in the house in time to see the last inning on MLB Network, but by then most of the regulars had departed and the FSN Arizona crew was doing a lot of pretty pictures that didn't have much to do with the game.

So quite a number of the details of this game escape me. Edwin Jackson, who according to one of the details that I did manage ti pick up, is going to be in the Cubs' bullpen, threw one inning. As has been the case for many of his starts, there was an error committed behind him that helped lead to an unearned run. It's said that Jackson's deliberate pitching pace might take some focus away from his fielders; I don't know how true this is but if it is so, that's something they ought to work on. Jackson allowed seven unearned runs this spring in 16⅓ innings. That's way too many, in my view. Last year he allowed just six all year, although in 2013 he allowed 13.

My personal feeling about Jackson is that the Cubs ought to eat the $22 million left on his deal and release him. Of course, it's not my money and I guess they want him to work for his pay. At this point, though, I wouldn't use Jackson except in blowouts (ahead or behind, say, by six or more runs, and yes, that's an arbitrary number I just pulled out of thin air).

Another pitcher making news Friday night was Travis Wood, who homered as a pinch-hitter for the second time this spring. Wood appears to be all-or-nothing as a PH; if I am recalling his appearances this spring correctly (and I'm sure you'll correct me if I'm wrong) he has two homers and two strikeouts. The homers are good, no question about it. I'd like some middle ground here, though.

The Cubs had just five other hits beyond Wood's homer and never really threatened to score off four Arizona pitchers. Most of the Cubs' regular relievers did all right in this game, except Pedro Strop, who gave up a monster homer to Paul Goldschmidt that landed in the second deck in left field at Chase, a titanic blast.

Don't know how many of you were listening to the webcast, but BCB's Danny Rockett got a couple of shout-outs from Len Kasper.

The Cubs announced their initial rotation and the only mild surprise was that Wood will go in the No. 4 spot, with Kyle Hendricks taking the No. 5 slot. According to this article, Joe Maddon is doing that so that the Cubs won't be throwing two lefties back-to-back, as they would if Wood were in the No. 5 spot and followed by Jon Lester. Wood will get the start this afternoon as a tune-up; Vidal Nuno goes for Arizona in a game that will be televised on WGN-TV beginning at 3:10 p.m. CT. The game preview will post at 1 p.m. CT.