MESA, Arizona — On another sun-kissed afternoon at Sloan Park, the Cubs defeated the Mariners 7-3 behind homers from Javier Baez and Albert Almora Jr.
But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. First, let’s talk about Jon Lester’s much better outing than his first last Monday.
Lester faced the minimum nine hitters, even though he allowed two hits. That was thanks to Willson Contreras, who threw out both baserunners attempting to steal. That’s a good sign for any number of reasons — great throws by Willson, great tags by Javy, Lester holding the runners on well enough to get those outs. Lester also struck out four [VIDEO].
Here’s Jon on his outing:
Lester after sharp three innings Sunday. pic.twitter.com/NVwyypYxL9— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) March 1, 2020
The Cubs loaded the bases in the first off almost-Cub Kendall Graveman, but Jason Kipnis struck out. Then they loaded them again in the third off reliever Sam Delaplane, who walked three in a row with one out. But Contreras struck out and Kipnis popped into short center.
So the game went scoreless into the bottom of the fourth, but Almora took care of that with one swing [VIDEO].
I don’t recognize the voice from the radio broadcast — perhaps those of you who listened can let the rest of us know who that was.
That was a leadoff homer. Another one came in the fifth courtesy of Javy [VIDEO].
Unlike the regular season, we don’t have accurate measurements for home runs in spring training, but I’d say that one was at least 440 feet. The Cubs scored two more in the fifth, one on an RBI double by Kipnis [VIDEO]...
... the other on an RBI single by Ian Miller. It could have been more, as Andy Weber (who replaced Kris Bryant in the field) singled after Miller, but Daniel Descalso, who had singled after Kipnis, was thrown out at the plate.
The only discordant note in this game was an apparent injury to prospect righty Manuel Rodriguez. He walked the first hitter he faced in the sixth, retired the next Mariner on a ground ball, then went to a 2-0 count on Kyle Lewis and the trainer was called out to the mound. Rodriguez departed, and this doesn’t sound good:
Manuel Rodriguez leaving the mound after throwing a high breaking pitch. Was wiggling right arm.— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) March 1, 2020
Hopefully it’s nothing serious.
Former Cub Carl Edwards Jr. entered to pitch for Seattle in the sixth and got a nice round of applause. He threw a scoreless frame and struck out one.
The Cubs minor leaguers and non-roster guys scored a pair off Seattle relievers in the seventh and the Mariners returned the favor off Caleb Simpson in the eighth. One final Cubs run in the bottom of the eighth completed the scoring.
Attendance watch: It was just short of a sellout, 14,804 at Sloan Park Sunday. That makes the season total 60,873 for five dates, or 12,175 per date.
Weather permitting, the Cubs will take on Joe Maddon’s Angels Monday afternoon at Sloan Park. (Note, that forecast says there’s a pretty good chance of rain. I have seen others that don’t mention rain at all. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and Julio Teheran will go for the Angels. TV coverage is on ESPN at 2:05 p.m. CT. Radio is on KLAA 830 with the Angels announcers.
There’s also a split-squad game Monday evening against the Athletics at HoHoKam Stadium at 8:05 p.m. CT. Alec Mills will get the start for the Cubs in the night game against Frankie Montas for the A’s. TV coverage for the night game will be on MLB Network.