SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- One of the things I truly hoped I'd see this season is Jon Lester fielding his position better.
It didn't happen in Thursday's game. First, Lester (and first baseman Taylor Davis) couldn't handle a bunt in the first inning. I'll give Lester the benefit of the doubt on that one, as Luis Sardinas placed the bunt perfectly. Eventually a pair of doubles in that inning led to three Seattle runs.
But Lester then made a throwing error on what should have been an out at second base, on a comebacker. Ed Lucas strayed too far off the base and Lester tried to fire quickly to get him, but the throw bounced in and both the batter and Lucas were safe. Two more singles and two more errors in the inning led to three more runs. One of the errors was charged to David Ross. Kyle Schwarber made a perfect throw from left field, but the ball bounced off David Ross' glove and Lucas, who should have been out, was safe. Here's the play at the plate:
Schwarber later left the game with what was termed "left knee soreness." Hopefully, that was just precautionary and it's nothing serious.
It wasn't a great first outing for Lester, who threw 50 pitches in two innings, likely more than Joe Maddon wanted him to throw. Three of the six runs were unearned, not that ERAs matter in spring training. Hopefully, his next outing will be better -- and he'll work on that fielding.
Even so, some of the Cubs subs produced in the late innings, particularly Munenori Kawasaki and Matt Clark, neither of whom has much of a chance to make the 25-man roster. The Cubs came from behind to take an 8-7 lead in the eighth, but then Felix Pena came in with two runners on and two out in the bottom of the inning. He issued a pair of walks and a two-run single and the Mariners beat the Cubs 10-8, giving the Cubs their seventh loss in a row. (Not concerned. The Cubs also started spring 2015 with a 1-8 mark, same as they are right now.)
Jorge Soler had gotten one of the first-inning runs back on this solo homer:
Ryan Williams, who impresses me more every time I see him, threw two scoreless innings. He allowed three baserunners (two singles and a walk), but got out of them with some good defense: a double play, and two runners caught stealing by Ross. Hector Rondon got touched up for a run and Carl Edwards Jr. looked pretty good in his one inning of work.
Former Cub Casey Coleman threw the fifth inning and gave us a vivid reminder of why he washed out of the Cubs organization. He allowed a long home run to Negron. Coleman's a longshot to make the Mariners (he spent all of 2015 in Triple-A in the Royals system), so this might be the last time we see him.
Javier Baez made the game close with a two-run homer off Emilio Pagan in the seventh, his first homer of the spring. Baez also doubled. He must like hitting in Peoria; that's the ballpark where he hit a homer off the scoreboard in left field (probably 450 feet) a couple of springs ago. Baez also looked better in center field, not letting a ball off the wall play him as he did against the Brewers last week. Here's Baez's home run:
Yes, the Mariners really do have a player named Boog Powell. He was a 20th-round pick of the A's in 2012, has middling minor-league numbers, and his real name is Herschel Mack Powell, and I think you can see why you'd want a nickname if that was your name. On the other hand, this Powell is listed at 5-10, 185, which doesn't sound very "Boog"ish to me (the former Orioles star was listed at 6-4, 230), and thus it appears the Mariners minor leaguer is nicknamed "Boog" primarily because his last name is Powell, which... I dunno, doesn't seem very creative.
It was a bit weird to see former Cub Blake Parker throwing the ninth for the Mariners. He retired the side in order for the save.
As I mentioned in the preview, I didn't go to this game, thus you get your first "almost instant" recap of 2016. Heading to the Bruce Springsteen concert tonight in downtown Phoenix.
Friday, the Cubs return to Sloan Park in Mesa to face the Reds. John Lackey will make his first appearance in a Cub uniform and his spring debut, against Cincinnati's Robert Stephenson.