MESA, Arizona — After the excitement and full house at Sloan Park Saturday, spring training rounded into form Monday with a smaller crowd, a lot more minor leaguers playing, and some quirks in the way the Cubs batted.
Jon Lester was really popping his fastball during bullpen warmups. I shot some video, you can watch some or all of it here.
Jon Lester warmupPosted by Bleed Cubbie Blue on Monday, February 25, 2019
Then he came out and did the same thing to the Padres in the first two innings. He issued a leadoff walk, and Travis Jankowski did what many runners do to Lester — stole second base. Then he stole third base. It didn’t matter, because Lester retired the other six hitters he faced, three by strikeout.
Meanwhile, the Cubs were also going down basically in order. Kris Bryant walked with two out in the first, but Padres catcher Chris Stewart picked him off.
Brandon Kintzler, first out of the pen to relieve Lester, did pretty well. He allowed a leadoff single, but retired the next three hitters, and best of all, threw strikes. It was an encouraging outing from a guy who had lots of trouble as a Cub last year.
The Cubs got things going in the fourth. Jason Heyward reached on an error, and one out later KB walked. After another out, Willson Contreras came to the plate:
Willson’s three-run homer, his first of the spring, gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead.
After that, the minor leaguers took the field for the Cubs, with the exception of some relief pitchers. Brian Duensing threw a solid inning with a pair of strikeouts, and Randy Rosario also had a good inning, allowing a two-out single. Duane Underwood Jr. was touched up for the Padres’ first run, George Kontos the second, and minor leaguer Brad Markey gave up a two-run homer in the ninth to make the score close.
The Cubs had another three-run inning in the seventh, all courtesy of minor leaguers, with a home run by Jared Young the big blow. Young was the Cubs’ 15th-round pick in 2017 and likely plays this year at Myrtle Beach.
Now, on to the fun with the lineup. Go look at the boxscore link above. The original lineup had Heyward leading off, Daniel Descalso batting second, Bryant hitting third and Javier Baez batting fourth. Heyward, Descalso and Baez all left after the fourth inning, and KB wasn’t scheduled to bat again as DH at that time.
In the sixth, when the top of the order came up, Mark Zagunis, playing right field in place of Heyward, struck out. Taylor Davis, inserted in the No. 2 spot at catcher, flied to right.
Bryant, or a PH for Bryant, should have been next. But Zack Short, who replaced Baez and is in the No. 4 spot, hit next. Uh... what? Short grounded out.
In the next inning, the seventh, Ian Rice was announced as a pinch-hitter ... for Bryant. He flied to left. Short should have been the next hitter, but onward the lineup went to the No. 5 spot, inhabited by Christian Donahue, who doubled, and that inning eventually led to Young’s home run.
The top of the order came up again in the eighth. Zagunis and Davis made outs, and then... Short batted. He singled, then Rice batted again, and flied to center.
Basically, the third and fourth spots in the order swapped for the last three times through. Obviously in a game like this it doesn’t mean anything, but I’ve never seen that happen before.
Also, snow’s still visible on the Superstition Mountains east of Mesa:
The Cubs played another game Monday, losing to the Dodgers 11-2 in Glendale. I don’t know anything about this game other than what I see in the boxscore, and I see that Trent Giambrone homered and went 2-for-4. Giambrone’s another guy very similar to David Bote (who should be all right after being hit in the head Sunday, though the team says they will take it slow with Bote), who could be a dark horse to help contribute to the Cubs sometime in 2019. He’ll be at Iowa and is worth watching.
It was warmer Monday, with temperatures in the upper 60s. Attendance was lower because... well, it’s Monday, and the Padres aren’t a draw. Announced attendance was 8,989, making the total for two dates 24,705 and the average 12,353.
Tuesday, the Cubs will face the Diamondbacks at Sloan Park. Yu Darvish will make his first appearance of 2019. As of posting time of this recap there’s no D-backs starter listed. Game time is 2:05 p.m. CT. No TV Tuesday, audio-only via cubs.com.