MESA, Arizona — On a day when the bigger stories were off the field (including the signing of Kyle Hendricks to a multi-year extension), the Cubs and Red Sox took part in a silly game in which minor leaguers played most of the time and the Cubs won 16-7, in the final game of spring training in Arizona in 2019.
And what I thought of most, considering these two teams, was that I am now hoping that they will be the teams involved in the last game of 2019, sometime around the end of October.
We can dream, right?
Hendricks was supposed to start this game, but:
Hendricks won’t pitch today, spent 3 hours in an MRI tube— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) March 26, 2019
Uh... okay, I guess, there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong, and we should certainly hope not after that contract extension.
So instead the three relievers who were supposed to come after Hendricks — Carl Edwards Jr., Brandon Kintzler and Tim Collins — threw the first three innings. Nice outings for CJ and Kintzler; Collins allowed a solo homer to Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart.
Meanwhile, Cubs hitters were pounding the ball all over the yard, mainly off big-league Red Sox relievers, as well as David Price... and man, I don’t think I ever noticed before how slow Price works. If MLB ever does go to a pitch clock, Price is going to be in violation on every single pitch. Price left after allowing five runs. One of those was Kyle Schwarber’s first home run of the spring [VIDEO].
That was nice to see — opposite field off a lefthander, and a good lefthander at that. Eventually the Cubs put this game away off several Red Sox relievers in the fifth inning, scoring eight runs. Here are all those runs! [VIDEO]
Cubs relievers from the Triple-A side, who included George Kontos, Rowan Wick, James Norwood, Matt Carasiti and Ian Clarkin, all did all right — except Clarkin, who faced five hitters and retired none of them. The last of those five, a Red Sox prospect named Sam Travis (a Chicago-area native who was a teammate of Schwarber’s at Indiana), smashed a grand slam, making the score appear closer than this game really was.
It got so silly that Wynton Bernard, a 28-year-old organizational guy who played last year at Iowa and Tennessee, went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a home run and three RBI, even though he didn’t start the game.
The regulars all departed by the middle innings so the Cubs’ charter flight to Dallas could leave on time in the late afternoon. The Cubs will spend their off day Wednesday in the Metroplex before Thursday’s opener.
Attendance watch: 15,913, another sellout, and again a significant minority of Red Sox fans, whose loudest cheer was for Dustin Pedroia, who played the first six innings. That makes the season total for 18 dates at Sloan Park 250,893, which is an all-time record for the ballpark and for a spring training season. The average for the 18 dates was 13,939.
And now... we have a baseball season ahead, 162 games worth, “filling the afternoons and evenings,” as former Commissioner Bart Giamatti once wrote. The Cubs look good to me, ready to go and ready to make up for the awful way 2018 ended.
Thursday in Arlington, Texas, it begins. Jon Lester will go for the Cubs and Mike Minor will start for the Rangers. Game time Thursday is 3:05 p.m. CT. TV coverage will be via WGN.