SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — We will see plenty of the White Sox this season, as the Cubs are slated to take on the A.L. Central in interleague play this year. In years when that happens, Cubs/Sox interleague games are increased from four to six, too many, in my view. The first such series is May 11-12-13 at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have wrapped up play against the Sox in the Cactus League; Friday’s 6-3 win meant the Cubs won two of the three, with the other resulting in a tie.
Yu Darvish looked particularly sharp, throwing five innings, allowing three hits and a run (that he wild-pitched in himself) and even getting a hit:
Reynaldo Lopez is getting touched up. Yu Darvish gets a hit. pic.twitter.com/yZhs4d2xa9— Kevin Marchina (@kg_holler) March 16, 2018
Here are a few of Darvish’s better-looking pitches of the day:
Yu Darvish pic.twitter.com/PXIVgkwB0T— Kevin Marchina (@kg_holler) March 16, 2018
Could this be true?
Radar gun at Camelback Ranch showed #Cubs Darvish fastball hit 98 mph. Yu: "I think there's something wrong with the speed gun"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 16, 2018
Darvish is a known kidder, but I think in this case it’s kidding on the square. He can touch 95, but 98 doesn’t seem likely. In any case, this was an excellent outing by Darvish and he was backed up by a pair of home runs. First, Willson Contreras in the fourth:
Ball might land by Opening Day. pic.twitter.com/MNFAZxFWx5— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 16, 2018
Then, Mike Freeman with a man on base later in the same inning:
Mike Freeman is hitting a cool .459 (17-for-37) this spring. pic.twitter.com/hD5SOEykae— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) March 16, 2018
Contreras nearly hit another one in the fifth, but was robbed by Avisail Garcia, after which he gave Garcia a helmet-tip:
Celebrate #AviDay with this tremendous catch! pic.twitter.com/WWnXZwsn7K— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 16, 2018
Willson seems as if he’s really maturing into a top big-league player. I look for him to have an even better year in 2018 than 2017; hopefully he stays healthy this year.
Brandon Morrow got touched up for a run in his inning of work, a solo homer by Garcia, who seems primed to have a big year for the Sox. Brian Duensing threw 1⅔ innings, and in the eighth served up a home run ball to Yoan Moncada, another of the Sox prospects that will probably make them contenders in a year or so. Perhaps a Cubs/Sox World Series could be in our future, sometime around 2020.
Justin Hancock, who’s looked pretty good this spring, finished up uneventfully. He could wind up on the Iowa shuttle at some point this year.
Ryan Court had another two-hit day and likely heads to Iowa, where he’ll be available in case of injuries this season. I’m rooting for him, seems like a good guy and has worked hard and waited a long time for his big-league chance.
Russ Langer, who is the radio voice of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s, filled in for Sox play-by-play man Jason Benetti, who is away doing radio broadcasts of NCAA basketball tournament games.
Langer has a pleasant enough voice, but you can see why he’s a career Triple-A broadcaster. He’s very generic in his game call, and he mispronounced several Cubs player names. I’ve noted this before, but broadcasters ought to do their homework on these kinds of things. If there’s a name broadcasters are unsure of, there are media relations people who would be happy to help — and MLB sent out a pronunciation guide by email just this morning. The worst of it was calling Albert Almora Jr. “Alberto” for several innings until he finally did that right, but he also called Duensing “Densing” and David Bote was pronounced as “Boat.”
A fair number of Cubs are on a plane this evening to Las Vegas, where they will play the Indians at Cashman Field Saturday and Sunday. The other half of the Cubs split squad will play the other half of the Indians split squad at Sloan Park Saturday at 3:05 p.m. CT. Eddie Butler will start for the Cubs and Trevor Bauer for the Tribe. Audio coverage of this game is on cubs.com and TV is via the Indians network SportsTime Ohio, available on MLB.tv.
In Las Vegas, Jose Quintana goes for the Cubs and Ryan Merritt for the Indians; that game begins at 6:05 p.m. CT. Radio coverage on 670 The Score and TV on WGN-TV.