MESA, Arizona -- The Cubs lost Monday afternoon to the Padres 10-2, but most of those runs were given up by Cubs minor leaguers who won't get close to Wrigley Field this year.
What is important is that Jorge Soler, playing left field, made two misplays that both allowed runs to score.
In the third inning, with a runner on second and one out, Jon Jay lofted a fly ball that, though deep, should probably have been caught by Soler. Instead, it went just past his glove and bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. That scored San Diego's first run, and the only one off Jake Arrieta in four solid innings. (More on that anon.)
In the fifth, after Arrieta had departed for Pierce Johnson, there were two out and no one on base when Travis Jankowski lofted a sinking line drive in front of Soler, who let it bounce off his glove and behind him all the way to the wall. Soler wasn't running very fast after it, either; Dexter Fowler had to come over from center field to retrieve the ball, and by the time Fowler threw in, Jankowski had circled the bases. It was ruled a single and a three-base error on Soler.
I'm not sure what's up with Soler. Is he still hurting from last year? He didn't seem to have any speed or range at all in left field in this game. That's got to be concerning, I'd think.
Let's back up a moment and talk about Arrieta's fine outing. If Soler had been a bit faster in left field he wouldn't have given up a run (because the ball in the third inning would have been caught). Jake struck out five and ended his appearance with a nicely-turned double play started by Addison Russell, who also made a nice stop in the fifth inning, just before Soler's second misplay. Jake seemed as if his velocity and location were in mid-season form, despite the two walks he issued. His next outing will be a minor-league game on Saturday.
After that, though, it was a sequence of poor pitching by several Cubs. Johnson gave up four runs in the sixth, capped off by a three-run homer by former White Sox Alexei Ramirez. Two more came across in the seventh off C.J. Riefenhauser, one of them unearned because of a throwing error by minor leaguer Jason Vosler at third base. The Padres scored a run off Jean Machi in the eighth and another unearned run in the ninth off Carl Edwards Jr. (unearned due to a passed ball by Tim Federowicz).
It wasn't pretty, but most of the "not pretty" was posted, as noted, by folks who won't see Wrigley this year unless they buy a ticket.
Kris Bryant drove in a Cubs run with a long double in the first inning and the other run scored on a Dexter Fowler single in the fifth. The regulars, who departed after the sixth, had just four hits and four walks off an assortment of Padres pitchers. Colin Rea, who started, and who I confess I had never heard of before Monday, allowed only one hit in four innings, the double by Bryant. Rea, a 12th-round pick of the Padres in 2011, started six games for them last year and is expected to be their fourth starter this season.
So, in summary: Arrieta = very good. Soler = bad. Rest of the team = meh.
Attendance watch: another sellout of 15,318 brings the spring total for eight dates to 118,384, or 14,798 per date. Last year's total of 222,415 and average of 14,828 were both all-time spring-training records, and it looks like those will fall, with the next four games already sold out.
These two clubs will meet again Tuesday, this time at the Padres' spring home in Peoria. Clayton Richard goes for the Cubs (Jon Lester will start in a minor-league game at the Cubs complex Tuesday), and Tyson Ross will start for the Padres.