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Royals 8, Cubs 6: A tale of two games

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The Cubs went way behind, then almost caught up.

Amanda Juech

In 2016, the Cubs did not have a first- or second-round draft pick because of the signings of John Lackey and Jason Heyward.

So their first pick that year was third-round righthander Thomas Hatch out of Oklahoma State. Hatch pitched last year at Double-A and had a decent year (3.82 ERA, 1.309 WHIP in 26 starts).

Tuesday night was the first time he pitched in a big-league spring game, and it was not successful. Hatch was pounded for six hits, two walks, eight runs (seven earned) and a home run and though the Cubs mounted a late comeback, they lost 8-6 to the Royals, fielding a team of subs and non-roster guys against a Kansas City team that featured most of their regulars.

I didn’t go to this game so watched it along with you via the Fox Sports Kansas City feed.

There are a couple of highlights from this game worth a look. First is this long home run [VIDEO] by Mark Zagunis that was the Cubs’ first run.

And, here’s a slick diving catch [VIDEO] by Johnny Field.

As I’ve noted before, Field is an intriguing player. If he could learn to strike out less, he could be a good fifth outfielder, even on a contending team. He’s got surprising power and plays defense well at all three outfield positions. For now, he’s likely headed to Iowa to be a replacement on the Cubs’ big-league roster if there are injuries.

After Hatch left the game, six Cubs relievers combined to throw six shutout innings and allow just two hits with seven strikeouts. They also walked five, though, and that’s been an issue particularly for Dillon Maples (two of the five walks). Allen Webster, who has an outside shot at the Opening Day roster, didn’t walk anyone.

Among Cubs who will be on that OD roster eight days from now, Victor Caratini was 2-for-3, including a triple.

That’s about it for this split-squad game. The Cubs will play again at night on Wednesday, when they host the Dodgers at Sloan Park. Cole Hamels will pitch at Sloan for the first time, and Julio Urias will go for the Dodgers. Game time is 9:05 p.m. CT. TV coverage will be via the Dodgers network SportsNet LA, and that broadcast will be live on MLB Network. There will also be an audio webcast via cubs.com. The game preview for tonight’s game will post here at 7 p.m. CT.