SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Jason Heyward broke out of his 0-fer this spring in a big way, with a home run in the second inning and a two-run double in the Cubs’ seven-run fourth, helping lead the Cubs to a sloppy 13-10 win over the Angels at Tempe.
I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on swings or batting stances, so here, take a look at Heyward’s home-run swing:
It looks to me as if Heyward kept his hands up for this swing, rather than dropping them as he had been doing most of the spring. The same thing happened on his double. So maybe that’s the issue here and if he can keep doing that, good things should follow. Here’s what Heyward said about his 0-fer:
Did 0-for-15 bother #Cubs Heyward even though it's spring? "0-for-15 will get you whenever"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 6, 2017
You might not think two hits in a spring game is a big deal, but in 142 games last year, Heyward had two or more hits only 28 times (comparison point: Anthony Rizzo had 44 multi-hit games in 2016). Keep it up, J-Hey. We’re all rooting for you.
Munenori Kawasaki also had a big day, driving in three runs with a bases-clearing double and another on a bases-loaded walk. Mune had two hits and scored a run and while he won’t make this team, he’ll certainly be at Iowa this year, and available in case someone gets injured. While he’s there he can brush up on the Spanish he was learning last year:
Newly recalled Cubs infielder Munenori Kawasaki was asked what he's been working on in the minors: "English and... https://t.co/smLt9fiamY— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) September 6, 2016
The Cubs’ seven-run fourth inning included an RBI walk by Ben Zobrist and an RBI single from Carlos Corporan. There was yet another bases-loaded walk, drawn by Corporan, in the Cubs’ three-run fifth. All told the Cubs had 14 hits and eight walks on the afternoon, a fine offensive output off several miscellaneous Angels pitchers. Having seen the Angels twice in the last week, I’d say they could be one of the worst teams in the American League. Mike Trout, who didn’t play in the other game against the Cubs last week, went 0-for-3.
Jake Arrieta, making his first start of the year, had a rough start. The first two Angels singled off him, but after a flyout Jake struck out Danny Espinosa and Corporan threw out Yunel Escobar trying to steal third. In the second, Jake allowed a homer to Jefry Marte and after two singles, Kyle Schwarber made an error allowing a run to score. The hitter on that play, Cliff Pennington, wound up on third where he scored on a groundout. It wasn’t the best outing for Jake but he seemed perfectly pleased:
On his b-day, Arrieta: "You hear age is just a number. I believe it is. 31 doesn't sound great, but I still feel great" #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 6, 2017
Eddie Butler pitched the third and fourth and allowed two runs. A delayed double steal scored one run as Espinosa stole home while the Cubs threw through to second base trying to nab C.J. Cron. This was actually good for the Cubs, being able to see what happens in a situation like that in a game that doesn’t count. Butler, who has a good arm, will likely be in the Iowa rotation.
Albert Almora Jr., who was hit in the leg by a pitch on Saturday, didn’t seem bothered by it on Sunday when he hit a grand slam against the Rangers. But Monday, he left the game after the first inning, replaced by Jacob Hannemann:
#Cubs Almora left the game because of left calf soreness. Fouled ball off his leg the other day— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 6, 2017
Again, something that’s probably just precautionary. Why push it during spring training on something like this?
The Angels scored three runs off Zac Rosscup in the eighth and he had to be lifted before the inning was over, not a good outing for him. Two more came across in the ninth off Jhondaniel Medina.
I watched this game on Fox Sports West, as I did for Sunday’s game on Fox Sports Southwest. Watching those two games on the opponent’s channel gave me great appreciation for Len & JD, who I think are the best in the business. Terry Smith, who was doing a radio/TV simulcast for the Angels, is kind of monotone. Plus, he kept mispronouncing Schwarber’s name, calling him “Kyle Sch-WAHR-ber” instead of “Kyle Sch-WAR-ber.” He also, at one point, called Hannemann “Hannahan.”
The attendance at Tempe Diablo Stadium, 7,384, sounded like mostly Cubs fans and was the largest crowd at Tempe so far this spring (seven dates). This is going to be a common thing this spring, Cubs fans making up the bulk of crowds at away games.
Tuesday, the Cubs will face the World Baseball Classic Team Italy squad at Sloan Park. Rizzo played for Italy in the 2013 WBC, and regarding tomorrow’s game, Joe Maddon said of Rizzo:
Maddon confirms Rizzo will play Mon-Tue. Wanted to be ready for #Cubs game vs Team Italy. Joe: "He didn't want to miss his paisans"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 5, 2017
John Andreoli, who was the Cubs’ 17th-round pick in 2011 and who has played six years in the organization and several games for the Cubs this spring, will play for Team Italy this time around. John Lackey will start for the Cubs Tuesday. I don’t know at this time who will go for Italy, but here’s their roster. You’ll recognize several big-league names there, including Francisco Cervelli, Brandon Nimmo and Daniel Descalso. Should be fun.