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Cubs 8, Royals 0: Now that’s more like it

Sunshine and guys getting good spring work in. What could be better?

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

MESA, Arizona — Tuesday afternoon’s 8-0 Cubs win over the Royals had everything the Cubs fan could want:

  • Brilliant sunshine and comfortable temperatures at Sloan Park, and less wind than Tuesday
  • Kyle Hendricks putting together a solid first outing
  • Javier Baez homering

Sure, you could ASK for more, but for Spring Training Game Number 5 of 2020, that’s pretty close to perfection.

Hendricks gave up a leadoff single and then retired the next six hitters to complete his two-inning, 33-pitch appearance. Here’s Kyle on his outing [VIDEO].

I concur with Kyle — “mid-season form” is kind of a truism at this stage of spring training, but he really did look like any good Kyle outing in the middle of June.

The Cubs loaded the bases in the second but could not score. But with two out in the third, Javy put the Cubs ahead [VIDEO].

That was his first of the spring and the team’s seventh.

Three more Cubs runs came across on the fourth, one of them on this RBI single by Jason Kipnis [VIDEO].

Kipnis also doubled in this game and made every play that went his way in the field. He looks just as good as he did in his good years in Cleveland. This could be Theo Epstein’s best signing of the offseason.

Alec Mills relieved Hendricks and also had two shutout innings. He allowed a walk and a stolen base to the first hitter he faced, but otherwise looked solid. So did the rest of the Cubs relievers Tuesday, who included Kyle Ryan, Jharel Cotton, Trevor Megill, Ben Taylor and Oscar De La Cruz. The seven Cubs hurlers combined on a five-hit shutout, striking out 12 Royals.

Don’t get too excited. This was a Royals split squad and I think I recognized one name in their lineup (Hunter Dozier).

Cubs minor leaguers put together a four-run rally off Jesse Hahn, who is trying to come back after having had elbow surgery in August 2018. This outing wasn’t very good for him. But it gave the Cubs a total of 30 runs in their last three games. And it hasn’t even really warmed up in the Phoenix area for a game yet.

Other news: Albert Almora Jr. was 1-for-3 in this game. Those were the first outs he made this spring. He’s 5-for-7 with a double, a home run, five runs scored and five RBI. Yes, that’s an extremely small sample size. Still, Almora has looked very good so far this spring. That’s an excellent sign, I think.

Here is the extended netting on the left-field side at Sloan Park, which goes to the end of the seating area (so ends before the bullpen begins):

Al Yellon

I am showing you this not only to show you how it works (at least in Mesa), but also I learned today that the outfield-side netting (where all the people are standing) can be raised so that fans can get pre-game autographs, then lowered for the game (or vice versa, not certain exactly how it works). A similar system will likely be in place at Wrigley Field.

Attendance watch: A slightly smaller crowd than Tuesday, 9,336, attended this game. While the game-time temperature (60) was lower than Tuesday’s 67, it was much less windy, so more comfortable for most. That makes the season total for three dates 30,970, or 10,323 per date.

The Cubs will travel to Surprise to face the Rangers Thursday afternoon. Colin Rea will start for the Cubs and Tyler Phillips will go for Texas. Game time is again 2:05 p.m. CT. TV coverage is on the Marquee Network and there will be an audio webcast via the Rangers site with their announcers.