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Cubs 8, Angels 8: Tying One On

For the first time in a few weeks, it was cloudy in the Valley of the Sun.

Yes, I know this photo isn't from Monday's game. But it's the most recent one I have of Jason Heyward.
Yes, I know this photo isn't from Monday's game. But it's the most recent one I have of Jason Heyward.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- For spring-training fans used to unlimited sunshine, Monday's 8-8 tie with the Angels was a bit different. Clouds invaded the Valley of the Sun and the next couple of days are supposed to be a lot cooler (upper 60s). The sun finally did come back near the end of the afternoon, just in time for Starling Peralta and a bunch of other Cubs minor leaguers blew a two-run lead in the ninth, thanks in part to a drop of an easy popup by Munenori Kawasaki. Fielding's supposed to be his strong suit, so that certainly didn't help his case to make the roster. The game was then called.

The weather didn't have much impact on the game; instead, some sketchy Cubs fielding helped the Angels to two of their early runs. Miguel Montero threw away what should have been an easy out on a dropped third strike, which helped lead to the first Angels run, and Kris Bryant made a wild throw to first base on what appeared to be a routine grounder in the fourth, which helped cap a five-run Angels inning that also included a double steal (Montero should never have thrown through, because it was pretty obvious the runner on third was going to break for the plate as soon as he did).

The Bryant error was pretty ugly:

In between, the teams traded home runs. Jason Heyward (who has apparently gotten superpowers from the bee stings) hit a three-run homer off Nick Tropeano and Anthony Rizzo followed that up with this one:

Kyle Hendricks threw three pretty good innings, victimized only by Montero's error, and then he started serving up home-run balls. Mike Trout took him deep and the next batter, Albert Pujols, hit the ball even farther:

That row of hedges behind the left-field berm at Tempe Diablo Stadium is a long way from the plate; that homer was probably close to 440 feet. It's not like we haven't seen Pujols hit tons of homers against the Cubs before. He's the leader among all active players in home runs hit by a visiting player at Wrigley Field, 28 (and 56 overall against the Cubs, by far his most against anyone). The Angels will be at Wrigley in August after the teams face each other to open the season in Anaheim.

For his part, Hendricks knows where he has to fix things:

Hendricks will start the preseason finale in Anaheim on Sunday, and he has concerns (though not major ones) beyond pitching:

Joe Maddon obviously wanted Hendricks to throw six innings, as he left him in to bat for himself in the sixth. Unfortunately he came up one out short of that, but the 5⅔ inning outing is the longest by any Cubs starter yet this year. The home run pitches to Trout and Pujols looked like they were just fastballs that didn't locate, and with Hendricks' lack of velocity that's always going to be a potential issue.

Clayton Richard came in and dispatched the only hitter he faced on one pitch. It's possible that Richard might be used in these sorts of situations during the year, as lefthanders posted a .534 OPS against him last year (67 batters faced). Justin Grimm threw a scoreless inning with a walk and two strikeouts. Neil Ramirez did a good job in a scoreless eighth, but it's still uncertain whether he'll make the 25-man roster.

Tommy La Stella, who started at second base, went 2-for-4 and drove in the tying run in the eighth, and then scored on a single by Albert Almora. Matt Murton added a run with a ninth-inning homer, which would have been great if the minor leaguers could have held the two-run lead. Murton's already been cut, but it's possible he'll go to Iowa as injury insurance.

Tuesday, the Cubs return to Sloan Park to face the Athletics in a matchup of probable Opening Day starters: Jake Arrieta vs. Sonny Gray.