I would beg to differ. A minor weather system went through the Phoenix area Wednesday night, and during the game it produced a wind sustained at 16 miles per hour, with higher gusts. All of this wind was blowing out at Sloan Park, and the two baseballs served up by Hamels that left the yard (a leadoff homer by A.J. Pollock and a third-inning blast by Corey Seager) were both wind-aided. So were a couple of booming doubles by Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger.
All of this helped produce a 4-1 Dodgers lead through the top of the sixth, after which Hamels departed. He was the first Cubs pitcher to throw into the sixth inning this spring, and he worked at a nice pace and struck out five. Hamels’ body language throughout said he wasn’t satisfied with this outing, which is good — every starting pitcher generally thinks he could have done better — but I thought he threw quite well despite the result.
Hamels was also responsible for the only run scored while he was in the game with this RBI single in the second inning [VIDEO].
Anthony Rizzo made it 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth with his third home run of the spring [VIDEO].
And the Cubs tied the game with a pair of runs in the seventh, helped along by two Dodgers errors and this single by Ben Zobrist [VIDEO].
Neither team could score after that, though the Dodgers got a pair of runners on against George Kontos in the eighth before he induced an inning-ending double play, and the Cubs got a runner to second with two out in the ninth before the game ended with the Cubs’ first tie of the spring.
Let me go on record right now as saying I don’t mind tie games in spring training, as the results of these games mean nothing. Both teams usually bring just enough pitchers to get in the work they need to get in, without going to extra innings. I was, in fact, a bit surprised the Cubs and Dodgers didn’t do this:
Giants vs Angels tied at 5 after 8 innings. Angels get automatic runner at second base to start the 9th— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 15, 2019
This isn’t something I ever want to see in a regular-season major league game, but apparently MLB does want teams to try it in spring training:
MLB teams can mutually agree in exhibition play to begin the ninth inning of a tie game with a runner on second base by informing the plate umpire — MLB has asked each team to try it once. If the game is still tied after the ninth, the teams can agree to either end the game or play a 10th inning.
So the Cubs and Dodgers could have done this, as the game was tied after eight innings. Apparently they decided to play on, possibly because there’s an afternoon game today and they didn’t want the game to go any longer than it had to. But given the above, I’d think we might see this in one of the seven remaining spring games.
Attendance watch: An announced crowd of 16,061 was exactly eight people short of the Cactus League/spring training record of 16,069 set March 3 vs. the White Sox, and the third crowd of over 16,000 this spring. The season total for 14 dates is 189,960, or 13,569 per date. All four remaining home dates are expected to be sellouts.
One of those, as noted above, will be Thursday afternoon at Sloan Park against the Giants. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and our old buddy Jeff Samardzija gets the call for San Francisco. Game time is 3:05 p.m. CT. No TV Thursday; the usual audio webcast will be available via cubs.com.