At last, one of the long-sequence offenses that has been the hallmark of the Cubs since they returned to contention in 2015 (except for the last two months of 2018) showed itself in the team’s 9-3 win over the Mariners Friday night.
The teams matched two-run first innings, and then Anthony Rizzo came to bat with one out in the third [VIDEO].
Okay, so it’s the Mariners’ broadcast and you had to look at Wade LeBlanc (who didn’t even pitch in this game) while Rizzo’s home run, his first of the spring. went well onto the right-field berm at Peoria Stadium. LeBlanc didn’t look too happy about all that in that video clip, either.
Then the Cubs blew the game open in the fourth. A walk by Taylor Davis and double by Mark Zagunis put runners on second and third with one out. Trent Giambrone grounded out, making it 4-2 Cubs, but now there are two out and a runner on second. Albert Almora Jr. was next [VIDEO].
Almora’s double scored Zagunis to make it 5-2 and Rizzo continued the fun [VIDEO].
Now it’s 6-2, and a double by Javier Baez and walk by David Bote loaded the bases. The Mariners changed pitches. Whoops, that didn’t work. Matt Walker issued a pair of bases-loaded walks and then threw a wild pitch that scored three Cubs runs. The boxscore shows Walker with no runs charged to him, but that’s only because of the way runs are officially charged to pitchers; all the runs were accrued to Marco Gonzales, the Seattle starter. That was a good offensive display, all six runs scoring after two out.
Overall, Almora went 2-for-4, Rizzo 3-for-3 with the homer (and three runs scored), Baez 2-for-3 and Bote 3-for-3 in the Cubs’ 14-hit, five-walk attack.
After that it was all Cubs relievers, who combined for seven innings, allowing four hits, one run and two walks, while striking out eight. Particularly impressive was Randy Rosario, who struck out the side in his one inning of work. It likely won’t change Rosario’s Opening Day destination, which will be Iowa, but he’ll certainly be on the Iowa Shuttle this year. So will Allen Webster, who struck out three in two innings.
The Cubs will play two Saturday in another split-squad afternoon. Interestingly, Cole Hamels will, according to this probable pitcher page, start the away game in Scottsdale against the Giants’ Dereck Rodriguez. And according to this probable pitcher page, the home game in Mesa vs. the Angels will be started by Alec Mills. Griffin Canning will go for the Angels. Both games will start at 2:05 p.m. CT. No TV Saturday. The Mesa game vs. the Angels will be an audio webcast via cubs.com. The Scottsdale game vs. the Giants will also be available on MLB Audio via the Giants broadcast team on KNBR 680 (over-the-air radio if you are in the San Francisco Bay area). I’ll be attending the game in Mesa Saturday afternoon.