This was one of those games where you look at the clock after the first inning and realize it’s taken 45 minutes and think, “This is going to be one of those games,” and not really caring because it’s spring training and baseball and one team is simply going to outlast the other. (It did wind up taking three hours and 45 minutes.)
The Cubs wasted no time in blasting Mariners starter Marco Gonzales, who they had similarly crushed last May 1 in Seattle. Kris Bryant and Javier Baez walked sandwiched around an Anthony Rizzo strikeout. (If you don’t have Marquee or missed the broadcast, JD quipped, “Will Javy have more walks in February than any other month this year?”)
The “juniors,” Stephen Souza and Albert Almora, singled in runs — Almora, for his part, has been hitting the ball with authority so far — and non-roster catcher Josh Phegley stepped up and made the score 5-0 [VIDEO].
Even with the new 26-man limit I don’t think Phegley makes it to the Opening Day roster. I suspect David Ross is going to keep Hernan Perez as that guy, to give more positional flexibility plus have a true backup shortstop. Phegley likely sticks at Iowa as the “break glass in case of emergency” catcher, and he’s got significant MLB experience. He went 2-for-3 with the three RBI on the homer.
Adbert Alzolay gave two of those runs back in the bottom of the first. Alzolay didn’t seem to have great command in this, his first spring outing, though he did snap off a few nice curveballs.
The Cubs added three more in the second on a throwing error and RBI hits from Souza and Almora. Souza, who was also hitting the ball hard, went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI. Here are Souza’s RBI hits. [VIDEO]
The biggest offensive performance of the afternoon was from Almora, who was 3-for-3 with a pair of runs and four RBI, including a fourth-inning homer. Here’s 1:42 worth of Almora highlights [VIDEO].
Almora recently admitted that he wasn’t in a good mental place in 2019:
“I wasn’t in a good place mentally,” said Almora. “Just the team wasn’t going to where it needed to be and that obviously sucks. Then my performance wasn’t where I wanted it to be as well. I learned a lot this offseason. I definitely put in the work to try to correct things and I’m in a good mental spot right now. That’s all I can really ask for.”
Also, he’s changed his swing:
Albert Almora, coming off a bad year, says he wasn’t in a good place mentally at the end of last season. Also, he’s revamped his swing: “Its visibly different.”— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) February 13, 2020
The results are “visibly different,” too, so far. Hopefully this carries over into the season.
The only real negative to come out of this game was Rowan Wick’s inning of work, or more correctly, his two-thirds of an inning, because after allowing four hits and a walk and five runs among the seven Mariners he faced in the fifth, Wick was lifted in favor of minor leaguer Matt Swarmer. Among the hits he allowed was a two-run single by former Cub Carlos Gonzalez. Hopefully this was just one of those “working on things” spring outings, because Wick was a useful setup man in 2019 and the team is very much hoping he’ll be the same in 2020.
The Cubs will host the Rockies at Sloan Park Tuesday afternoon. Game time is again 2:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage again will be via the Marquee Network. There’s no radio/audio broadcast at all for either team, so if you don’t have access to Marquee you’ll have to follow along via Gameday.