Sure, it’s only a spring-training game against a team missing most of the Cubs’ regulars, and it was only three innings of work, but Miller looked outstanding. He struck out six of the 10 batters he faced. The only baserunner to reach against him was Albert Almora Jr. on an infield single. If Miller can pitch this way for Arizona this year, that’s a big step back to contention for them.
Meanwhile, Jake Buchanan looked pretty good — for a while. He got himself in trouble with a walk in the second inning, then with two out allowed a single and a long three-run homer to Jason Pridie, who has played for six major-league teams and whose last significant big-league time (more than 10 at-bats) was in 2011 for the Mets. Pridie’s homer was all the Diamondbacks needed for a 3-1 win over the Cubs in the Cubs’ first night game of the spring.
The game was so sparse in highlights for the Cubs that I want to tell you about the nine-pitch at-bat Kyle Schwarber worked off Miller leading off the game. The third pitch of that at-bat — and I wish there were video but they normally don’t post highlights of things like this — was a ball that had long home-run distance that curved foul. It was hit so far that it got a reaction out of the crowd. Schwarber eventually popped up, a ball hit to the left side of the infield that drifted across the foul line and shortstop Ketel Marte had to race over from near second base, where he was playing in the shift normally put on against Schwarber.
The Cubs had only three other baserunners after Almora’s hit. Matt Szczur led off the fifth inning with a triple. Two outs later, Munenori Kawasaki singled him in.
That was that. The final 13 Cubs hitters went down in order, four of them by strikeout, and as you can see by the headline, Cubs batters whiffed 14 times on the evening, 11 of them before the big-league hitters left the game.
Cubs relievers threw six shutout innings, allowing four singles and a walk with six strikeouts. None of the pitchers involved (Daniel Corcino, David Rollins, Jhondaniel Medina and Zac Rosscup) is going to make the big-league bullpen, but all of them looked pretty good, so that’s a decent sign for future reference.
The game was announced as a sellout and one of the bigger crowds in Talking Stick history at 13,309 (the listed capacity of the park is 11,000), but even before folks started departing in the middle innings the place never looked full. I had heard this game was sold out earlier in the day so just for a point of reference I looked at the Stubhub page for this game. There were hundreds of tickets for sale only a few hours before the game for as low as $6. Seems like a lot of those might have gone unsold.
The Cubs return to Sloan Park Friday afternoon for a rematch with the Reds, who defeated them in Goodyear Thursday. Mike Montgomery goes for the Cubs against the Reds’ Tim Adleman.