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Athletics 10, Cubs 3: A tale of two games

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The first four innings flew by, with solid pitching from Kyle Hendricks, and then...

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

MESA, Arizona — The good news from the Cubs’ 10-3 loss to the Athletics Thursday afternoon was that Kyle Hendricks looks in mid-season form.

Check out this strikeout, on a lovely changeup, of the very first batter of the game, Dustin Fowler:

In the second inning, Hendricks gave up an infield hit and then induced this nice DP grounder:

Hendricks faced seven batters, allowed two hits and got a lot of weak contact, which means his stuff is working the way it should.

Brian Duensing relieved Hendricks and got Cliff Pennington to hit a sharp grounder right at Kris Bryant, who made this slick play:

The Cubs weren’t doing much off our old pal Brett Anderson, who allowed a pair of hits and a walk in the second, but struck out the side. He threw three scoreless innings. If he’d have done that with the Cubs in 2017, maybe he’d still be here.

Anyway, the first four innings flew by in just 51 minutes. In the last Sloan Park game on Tuesday, I think they were still in the first inning at the 51-minute mark. The A’s pushed across a run on George Kontos in the top of the fifth, but the Cubs came back and took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning. Kyle Schwarber led off with a double that nearly made the berm, and after a bloop single by Jason Heyward, a pair of outs and a walk, Ryan Court singled in a pair. Here’s Schwarber’s double and Court’s hit:

And as far as Cubs fans were concerned, the game could have ended right there. But no, baseball rules say nine innings get played, so the game moved on, unfortunately for our side, because Jen-Ho Tseng was just horrendous in this one. The A’s sent 10 men to the plate and scored six times; Tseng was removed after the eighth hitter, by which time his outing was, in order: single, walk, walk, fly ball, single, single, triple, ground out. Yikes.

And in the next inning, Randy Rosario wasn’t any better. He served up long home runs to the first two hitters he faced, then retired three of the next four. Hope he was “working on something.” Tseng wasn’t likely to be a part of the 2019 Cubs, but Rosario was a useful bullpen piece for much of last year.

The Cubs plated one further run on a double by Court and a single by Cristhian Adames in the seventh, and the game dragged on for a couple more innings before ending.

It was a gorgeous afternoon in Mesa, the nicest day so far this spring. Game time temp was 73, light winds, unlimited sunshine, the perfect Arizona spring day. Attendance watch: 10,573 paid to see this game. That makes the season total for four dates 45,944, or 11,486 per date. I’d expect close to a sellout Saturday against the Brewers.

Before that, though, the Cubs face the Diamondbacks in Scottsdale Friday afternoon. Jose Quintana is on the mound for the Cubs, Robbie Ray for the D-backs. Game time is 2:10 p.m. CT and if you have MLB.tv, you can watch via the D-backs channel Fox Sports Arizona. There will also be an audio webcast via cubs.com.