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Red Sox 4, Cubs 2: On to Miami and the 2018 regular season

At last, real baseball is almost here!

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — If you missed the ESPN broadcast of the Cubs’ 4-2 loss to the Red Sox Tuesday afternoon, you missed some amazing baseball hilarity.

Given the meaninglessness of this game, ESPN put a microphone on Boston outfielder Mookie Betts — while he was in the field. Obviously you’d never do this in a regular-season game, but in a spring game? Why not?

Betts spent a fair amount of time bantering with Karl Ravech, Tim Kurkjian and Eduardo Perez about his golf game, but then with two out in the top of the third inning, Kris Bryant laced a ball down the right-field line, and...

Now that is great television!

For the Cubs, as I forecast, most of the starters were out of the game after that inning, save for Ben Zobrist, who the Cubs wanted to get some more reps at first base, and Willson Contreras, who stuck around long enough to catch Pedro Strop. Strop threw a scoreless inning, getting three groundouts and allowing a single. He looked fine to me, and we should hear fairly soon about his status for the 25-man roster. I don’t see any reason why he won’t be on it.

Jose Quintana’s “tune up” outing consisted of three innings with two hits allowed, both singles. As was the case with Yu Darvish Monday, Quintana didn’t strike out anyone, and this could have been (as Darvish said) due to the gusty winds at JetBlue Park.

Justin Hancock, who’s in play for the final spot in the bullpen, allowed the Red Sox a pair of runs on three hits in his one inning of work. It’s still an open question as to whether he will get the final bullpen spot, and I don’t think this outing will make any difference in the eventual decision. In any case the Cubs have a guy who could do well on the Iowa shuttle this year.

Bryant, who was 2-for-2, and Jason Heyward were the only Cubs starters who had hits. They broke through for two runs in the eighth inning. The first scored on a single by Chesny Young and an RBI double by Mark Zagunis, the second on a single by Chris Gimenez. All of those men will play at Iowa this year and all could see big-league time by the end of the 2018 season.

If you saw this tweet and voted “over” (as I did), you win (although not by much, as the game went 2:41):

And with that, we have reached the end of spring training. For whatever it’s worth (not much, I’d say), the Cubs finished with a 19-14-3 record. The 19 wins is the Cubs’ most in any spring since 1987.

Thursday, they begin the business of posting wins that count. Opening Day against the Marlins is not only the Cubs’ first game, but it will be the very first major-league game played this year. Game time is 11:40 a.m. CT. Jon Lester will start for the Cubs and Jose Urena for the Marlins. TV coverage in the Chicago area (and also on various affiliates in the blackout area) will be via WGN-TV, and outside the Chicago and Miami markets there will be a national broadcast on ESPN. (I’m pretty sure no players will be wearing microphones during play.)

We will have several season-preview articles of various types here tomorrow, so stick around!

Go Cubs! Can’t wait for the season to begin!