MESA, Arizona — The Cubs put a lineup on the field Monday night that should closely resemble their Opening Day squad Thursday in Texas (save for the DH that they’ll use in Arlington), and though Cole Hamels won’t start that game, he was certainly in midseason form in the Cubs’ 3-2 win over the Red Sox.
The only run Hamels allowed was a solo homer by Andrew Benintendi that began the scoring in the third inning. He allowed just two other hits and retired the last eight Red Sox he faced.
And Hamels used his bat to his benefit, tying the game in the bottom of the third with this solo home run [VIDEO].
The Cubs plated another run in the third. Kris Bryant got hit by a Rick Porcello pitch — the fourth time he’s been hit this spring — and then Anthony Rizzo blooped a ball behind shortstop that was converged on by three Red Sox fielders, who let it drop among them. Bryant, who had been off with the pitch, never stopped running and scored. Rizzo was credited with a double.
Pedro Strop, returning from his hamstring injury, had a 1-2-3 sixth with a pair of strikeouts and a line drive caught by Kyle Schwarber, an eight-pitch inning. Strop showed absolutely no signs of any hamstring trouble and seems ready to go on Thursday.
The Red Sox tied the game off Steve Cishek in the seventh. Cishek retired the first hitter he faced and then allowed three straight singles, making the score 2-2. Cishek, who was slowed by illness this month, has not looked good in either of his last two outings. Hopefully, that’s just temporary, and he too will be ready to go Thursday.
David Bote, who came into the game on a double-switch when Cishek was removed for Randy Rosario, hit the game-winner, a long home run to center field [VIDEO] in the last of the seventh that gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead.
Bote sat on that high fastball and hit it about 430 feet. There’s no center field distance marker at Sloan Park, but it’s about 410, so that ball had to be at least 430.
Rosario, who hasn’t looked all that good this spring, had a 1-2-3 eighth with two K’s, and Kyle Ryan, who still has an outside shot at making the Opening Day roster, threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his first spring save.
Incidentally, I’m happy to report that Red Sox starter Rick Porcello appears to be all right after taking this Willson Contreras line drive off his head in the second inning:
You’ll note Contreras applauding after Porcello got up and stayed in the game. A scary moment, but it appears all is well.
Attendance watch: A large contingent of Red Sox fans, maybe a third of the ballpark, produced a Sloan Park record crowd of 16,100. That’ll stand as a Cubs and spring training record, but not a Cactus League record, as this was not a Cactus League game. The spring total at Sloan Park for 17 dates is 234,980, or 13,822 per date.
Tuesday afternoon, the Cubs wrap spring ball in Arizona with another game against the Red Sox. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and David Price will go for the Red Sox. Game time Tuesday is 2:05 p.m. CT. There will be an audio webcast on cubs.com and TV coverage will be via the Red Sox channel NESN, which will be available via MLB.tv. All the games Monday were available free on MLB.tv, so I’d expect that to be the case again Tuesday. I’d also expect many of the Cubs regulars to start, but depart after one at-bat and three innings or so, to take the flight to Dallas for the opener Thursday.