SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Wednesday afternoon’s game didn’t end up on the Cubs’ side, nor did it end up against them, as it became the fifth tie game of the spring, 5-5 with the Diamondbacks when minor leaguer James Pugliese couldn’t hold a one-run lead.
But Jake Arrieta certainly made his mark on the afternoon. After serving up a two-out, two-run homer to Jake Lamb in the bottom of the first, Jake decided to get one of those runs back on his own:
That ball was crushed. When I saw it, I made this estimate of its distance:
Turned out I was a little bit short on that:
FYI, Arrieta's HR sailed 464 feet. He has the longest HR by a pitcher in Statcast era at 440 feet. #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 23, 2017
It’s not easy on that video to see exactly where the ball landed. Here’s a better look at the spot:
The ball landed about 20-30 feet to the left of that “Banana Boat Lawn” sign, near the back of the sign. That’s a long, long way from home plate.
After the first inning, Jake gave up five more hits, but only one of those runners got past first base until he was out of the game (one more run scored off reliever Brian Duensing, charged to Jake). I thought overall it was a good outing, with just one walk in five-plus innings. He should have his next start Tuesday at Sloan Park against the Giants, and should be ready to go at least six in that one.
The Cubs scored one more run in the fifth on doubles by Munenori Kawasaki and Kris Bryant, and took the led in the sixth when Willson Contreras led off with a double. Two walks loaded the bases and Jake hit a ball that the D-backs infielders couldn’t handle until the lead run had scored.
Unfortunately, that sixth-inning run tied the game. Koji Uehara served up a home-run ball to Oswaldo Arcia, but Tommy La Stella matched that in the top of the eighth to tie it up again at 4. The Cubs took a 5-4 lead in the ninth on three singles, the third an RBI knock by Contreras, who went 3-for-5 on the day and played everything except the last of the ninth.
But Pugliese could not hold the lead as it began to rain lightly at Talking Stick. A walk, a single and a sac fly tied the game before the ninth inning ended with a double play.
After about a week’s worth of really hot weather, a few showers came through the Phoenix area overnight and cooled the temperatures down to the upper 60s. The weather for the rest of camp is supposed to be pleasant, sunny, in the upper 70s or lower 80s. The threat of rain did not prevent Talking Stick from setting an all-time attendance record of 14,002, a gathering that was probably two-thirds Cubs fans.
Earlier in the day, Joe Maddon set his rotation order:
#Cubs 3 4 5 starters will be Lackey, Anderson and Hendricks— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 23, 2017
And the reason for the order after Jon Lester and Jake?
In reality, after the first time through the rotation, it matters little. This also means Mike Montgomery will play the same role he did last year, long relief with the occasional start, especially if the Cubs decide they want to go with six starters later in the summer.
The Cubs also announced roster cuts earlier Thursday. Jake Buchanan, Alec Mills and Jeimer Candelario were optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Williams Perez, Dylan Floro and David Rollins were reassigned to minor-league camp, and Jim Henderson was released. None of these moves should surprise you at all. That leaves 36 players in camp, as follows: 16 pitchers, five catchers (two non-roster invitees), 10 infielders (four non-roster invitees) and five outfielders (one non-roster invitee).
Friday, the Cubs return to Sloan Park for another rematch with the Indians. John Lackey goes for the Cubs and Carlos Carrasco for the Tribe.