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Indians 4, Cubs 3: Willson!

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The Cubs catcher went deep twice off Danny Salazar.

Willson had a big bat Monday night
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — The Cubs didn’t beat the Indians in three tries this spring (two losses, one tie).

And you know what? That doesn’t matter one bit, because the Cubs won the important games over the Tribe, the World Series last fall.

Monday night in front of an all-time record crowd at Goodyear Ballpark (11,624, breaking the park’s record of 11,553 set last Wednesday when the Cubs played the Reds) of mostly Cubs fans at the Indians’ spring home, Danny Salazar struck out nine and outdueled Jon Lester. The Tribe went on to beat the Cubs 4-3.

In tune-ups for their first regular-season starts, both Lester and Salazar went six innings. I don’t have a pitch count for Lester but he probably was close to 90 pitches. Apart from the second inning, when Lester gave up several hits and three runs (the Indians TV announcers hinted he was throwing mostly cutters; perhaps he was working on them), and the fifth, when Abraham Almonte homered, I thought Jon looked pretty good. He was snapping off nice curveballs, didn’t walk anyone and struck out five.

Lester also drove in the only run not plated by Willson Contreras with an RBI single in the sixth. That got a loud roar from the Cubs-centric crowd.

Contreras smacked two homers in this game, both off Salazar. Here’s the first one:

Hector Rondon relieved Lester and got the only two batters he faced, at which time Wade Davis entered and retired the only batter he faced. Now, saying Rondon “got the only two batters he faced” is downplaying one of those outs, which was this terrific catch by Albert Almora Jr. on a ball hit by former Cub Austin Jackson:

Andrew Miller, who did not throw well for the USA in the World Baseball Classic, retired Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo 1-2-3. I’m guessing he’d rather have done that last November. (Glad he didn’t!)

The following isn’t related to this game, but it involves a former Cubs broadcaster and I thought you might like to see it. It’s in relation to Tuesday’s Braves/Tigers game:

That’s just... weird.

Tuesday, the Cubs return to Sloan Park to take on the Giants in an afternoon affair. Jake Arrieta will face Matt Cain.