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Cubs 4, White Sox 4: Tie After Tie

Someday, the Cubs will win again. But at least they’re not losing.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

MESA, Arizona — The difference between the World Series champion Cubs, who are basically just getting players ready slowly for the 2017 season, and the White Sox, was crystal clear in Monday’s slow-moving 4-4 tie between the teams at Sloan Park, the Cubs’ second straight deadlock.

Rick Renteria, the new Sox manager, used 30 players, including three first basemen and three catchers. He trotted out two pinch-runners and made two mid-inning pitching changes. All of this, I suppose, is Ricky trying to figure out what he has and what bench players and relief pitchers are going to make his squad.

Meanwhile, the Cubs, as they have been doing since the start of games over the weekend, had regulars play for two or three at-bats. Anthony Rizzo left for a pinch runner — and not a guy who’d normally do that, Chris Dominguez. That was done, most likely, because a light rain had been falling at the ballpark for an inning or two, and after Rizzo walked in the third inning, Joe Maddon probably figured it was best to not have him running the bases in less-than-ideal conditions.

Most of the rest of the regulars left after the fourth, except for Kyle Schwarber, who stuck around until the fifth to get him three at-bats. He singled sharply to right field in the first, grounded out 3-1 in the third and was called out on strikes in the fifth. He had one routine putout and handled a couple of other balls (singles to left) without any difficulty. He seemed to be moving around quite well in left field, and though I know the Cubs will bring him along slowly and give him many innings off even during the season, I don’t think he’ll have any trouble out there.

Brett Anderson made his first appearance of the spring, and threw just one inning. Tim Anderson won the battle of the Andersons by leading off the game with a single, but Brett A. then got a pair of groundouts and struck out Matt Davidson to end the inning. He looked just fine and those ground balls are encouraging. One inning isn’t much to judge on, so I won’t. But I’m sure we’ll see him again on the weekend.

Brad Markey, who was a starter at Double-A Tennessee last year, got hit hard by the Sox, including a two-run homer by Jose Abreu that gave the Sox a 3-2 lead at the time. The Cubs had taken that 2-0 lead on solo homers by Addison Russell and Willson Contreras. The Russell homer landed in the glove of my friend Ken Keefer near the back of the left-field berm, a pretty good blast on a chilly, windy afternoon:

And here’s Willson’s blast:

Of the minor leaguers who threw the rest of the game for the Cubs, the one who impressed me most was Jhondaniel Medina, who had a 1-2-3 inning with three groundouts. Two of the three hitters were guys with big-league experience (Leury Garcia, Everth Cabrera). Medina is 24 and split last year between Double-A and Triple-A in the Pirates organization. If he has a sinker that can induce ground balls like that, he might have a chance to make the big-league pen, not this year but somewhere down the road.

The Cubs took a 4-3 lead in the seventh. With runners on second and third, Chesny Young (who was only in the game because Jemile Weeks had to leave after being injured in a collision on an earlier steal attempt) singled up the middle, scoring both runners. But the Sox tied it up after Daury Torrez hit former Phillie with one out. A single advanced pinch-runner Peter Bourjos to third, where he scored on an infield out.

The Cubs had chances to win the game in both the eighth and ninth. Jeimer Candelario singled leading off the eighth and went to second on a walk to Jacob Hannemann. But Ian Happ struck out and Taylor Davis hit into a double play.

Then in the ninth, with rain starting to fall again and the grounds crew uncovering the tarp, indicating to all that there would be no more innings, Munenori Kawasaki led off with a single. After a pair of strikeouts, Mune took off for second. A good throw would have had him, but the throw went into center field and Mune took third. Young, again, was the hitter, and perhaps 2,000 who had stuck around hoped for a win.

But Young took strike three and the game ended, another spring tie.

Attendance watch: 14,621, which officially is not a sellout but was termed one by Carrie Muskat, brings the total for three games to 44,938, or 14,979 per date. There were a fair number of empty seats at game time, likely due to the forecast of rain.

Rain is supposed to exit the Valley by mid-morning Tuesday and the rest of the day is supposed to be sunny with temperatures in the low 60s, so they should be able to play with no problems. The Angels will visit Sloan Park, and start lefthander Manny Banuelos against new Cubs righthander Alec Mills.