SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Let me tell you about the game I saw Saturday, and then we’ll get to the Cubs victory on the afternoon.
Only a handful of Cubs regulars were on hand to take on the Rockies at Talking Stick in front of a crowd of 13,565 that had to be at least two-thirds Cubs fans, and they saw the men in blue lose 7-4. This is probably why Rockies fifth starter German Marquez breezed through the Cubs lineup for the first five innings. Just two Cubs reached base (singles by Chris Dominguez and Willson Contreras) and neither got past first base.
Meanwhile, Brett Anderson was throwing pretty well. He allowed an unearned run in the third inning in part due to a Javier Baez error. Javy tried to throw the ball before he had control of it, and wound up bobbling it. Otherwise Anderson’s four innings were pretty good, as he had seven ground-ball outs and walked only one.
Wade Davis, though, is another story. I’ve talked to others who have watched Davis throw this spring and we agree that he doesn’t seem to have the velocity he normally does, and he’s throwing with an odd stiff-arm delivery that (to me, at least) hints that he might not be 100 percent healthy. In this one he faced five batters. Two of them slammed hard hits into right-center (one single, one double), he walked two and the fifth guy (Nolan Arenado) hit a long fly ball to center field.
That isn’t a recipe for success. I hope nothing’s wrong with Davis, but this is definitely concerning: a 19.64 ERA in 3⅔ spring innings, nine hits and five walks allowed. That’s a 3.82 WHIP. Even if you’re “working on something” in spring training, that isn’t good. Four runs eventually were charged to him when minor-leaguer Mario Meza served up a two-run double to Justin Garneau, so it was 5-0 going to the sixth.
Jason Heyward, who’s looking better and better with his new swing every time he comes to the plate, got one of those runs back in the sixth:
It was Heyward’s second homer of the spring. Baby steps, to be sure, but this is what spring training is for.
The rest of the game was a melange of Rockies minor leaguers hitting Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop pretty hard, which is also somewhat concerning. On the other hand, neither of those guys has had much work this spring. Each gave up one run in one inning of work. I think you’ll see that changing over the spring’s final week, both the workload and the run-allowing.
In Las Vegas, it was a barrage of home runs for both teams as they combined for six long balls in an 11-7 Cubs win over the Reds.
Four of those homers were hit by Cubs: Ian Happ, Chesny Young, Victor Caratini and Vegas hometown boy Kris Bryant:
KB’s homer was one of three in a six-run fifth inning that put the game (mostly) out of reach, and clearly he loves hitting in his hometown:
Kris Bryant now 5-15 with 2B, 3 HR in 7 "Big League Weekend" games at Cashman Field in Las Vegas #Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) March 25, 2017
For Happ’s part, he drove in four runs Saturday and is having a blistering hot spring:
Ian Happ now hitting .426 (20-47) with 5 HR, 17 RBI this spring #Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) March 25, 2017
A taste of the future only, as the 22-year-old is certainly headed for the minor leagues, likely starting in Double-A with a possible promotion to Triple-A later in the year.
Former Cub Arismendy Alcantara homered for the Reds.
Pitching-wise, Kyle Hendricks struggled a bit, walking four in his three innings of work. He didn’t allow any runs, but I’m certain that isn’t the type of outing he’d like to have.
Sunday afternoon, the Cubs again face the Reds in Las Vegas. Eddie Butler, who’s been quite impressive this spring, will pitch against Tim Adleman. In the Valley, the Cubs return to Sloan Park to face the Padres. Alec Mills gets the start in that one against our old friend Trevor Cahill.