PEORIA, Arizona -- I am reasonably certain... no, check that, I'm 100 percent certain that the Tuesday plan for Padres manager Andy Green did not include having his starting pitcher, Tyson Ross, face eight hitters and get only one of them out, forcing Green to call in a replacement.
But that's exactly what happened as Cubs hitters pounded Ross all over sunny, warm Peoria Stadium Tuesday afternoon in front of a smallish crowd of 7,709 that was probably two-thirds Cubs fans. The Cubs pounded out three doubles and drew three walks in a five-run first inning, on their way to an 11-1 dismantling of the Padres, "payback" of sorts for the 10-2 defeat San Diego hung on the Cubs on Monday.
Jason Heyward drove in three runs and had a pair of doubles, and his hustle into second base on what looked like an ordinary pop-fly single in the first helped lead to the first run. While Heyward was safe at second, Padres second baseman Cory Spangenberg dropped the throw, which allowed an alert Dexter Fowler to race around third and score.
Jeimer Candelario doubled in a run, Javier Baez singled in two, and Tim Federowicz completed the first-inning scoring by lacing a double down the left-field line.
Philip Humber, of White Sox perfect-game fame, replaced Ross and was no better. He got out of the first inning and gave up only one hit in the second, but in the third the bottom of the order -- Arismendy Alcantara and Munenori Kawasaki -- singled, and after Fowler drew a walk to load the bases, Heyward cleared them with a booming double to deep right field:
Kawasaki continues to impress. He singled and doubled and was flawless in the field, showing excellent range. He might still be a longshot to make the 25-man roster, but I expect him to be at Iowa and possibly have some major-league time before this year is over.
Clayton Richard started this game and threw two good innings, though he did issue a pair of walks in the first inning. Those didn't hurt him because he had previously picked Derek Norris off first base after Norris singled:
Take notes, Jon Lester. That's how it's done. Incidentally, BCB's Danny Rockett was at the Lester minor-league game earlier Tuesday and he'll have photos and video here on that appearance, most likely tomorrow morning.
The first inning took 35 minutes; after that, the pace picked up as most pitchers were mowing down hitters. Ryan Williams, who will likely be pitching at Iowa this year, threw three good innings, allowing four singles but no runs with a pair of strikeouts. One of those singles resulted in an error by Kyle Schwarber when he booted the ball in left field. No harm was done as the runner, Jon Jay, advanced to third but was stranded there.
The Cubs put up a second three-spot in the eighth off Padres reliever Nick Vincent. Kristopher Negron hit a two-run homer after Albert Almora singled, and then John Andreoli got a chance to show off his speed:
Andreoli was halfway to third by the time the ball bounced away from Padres right fielder Jabari Blash, and the play at the plate wasn't really close. Inside-the-park homers are always exciting, even in spring training. Much of the crowd had departed by then, but those left, again mostly Cubs fans, gave Andreoli a nice ovation for his feat. I do hope Andreoli does get some big-league time, even if it's only a September callup. He surely deserves it for being a good organizational guy for the last five years, after being a 17th-round pick from UConn in Jim Hendry's last draft in 2011.
Now, to some relief performances worth noting: Justin Grimm gave up a run in his inning of relief, and it was mainly due to his own poor pitching; he threw two wild pitches, allowing Blash to advance to third after he came in to pinch-run for Matt Kemp. Blash then scored on a sacrifice fly. One of Grimm's biggest problems late last year was control, so these wild pitches were a bit troubling. Hope it was just a one-off, and not a sign of more issues.
Neil Ramirez struck out the side in the seventh, facing three Padres minor leaguers. His velocity looked decent, which is an encouraging sign. I hope we see more of this from Ramirez as the spring goes on. He's one of the guys on which a decision must be made before camp breaks.
I went to this game mainly because I wanted to see the renovations at Peoria Stadium, and curiously, I found they hadn't done too much. Two party areas have been added, but mostly the place looks the same. They didn't do anything to the scoreboard, which contains a small video board in the center. I will say they've kept concession prices reasonably low there, and there's a pavilion in left field (which was there last year, too) which on some dates is open to the public. Tuesday was one of those days, so I wound up sitting in a seat right behind the Cubs bullpen, a really good deal for $8.
Wednesday, the Cubs head to the West Valley again to face the Royals in Surprise. John Lackey will go for the Cubs against Chris Young. It will be the first CSN Chicago telecast of the spring, and CSN says it'll be commercial-free (they'll run player features and other similar vignettes during the inning breaks).