MESA, Arizona — Baseball — and the world, for that matter — have kind of an apocalyptic feel to them these days, so why not lead this recap of the Cubs’ 3-2 win over the Padres Wednesday night with some things that, while true, make little sense.
The Cubs were no-hit for six innings by three random Padres pitchers, although they probably should have had a hit in the second. Steven Souza Jr. hit a sharp ground ball to third base that was ruled an error. Official scorers will tell you that they always want the first hit to be a clean one, so maybe that was the right call.
Thus it was that leading off the seventh, after all the Cubs regulars had departed, Daniel Descalso broke up the no-hitter with a single.
No, I am not making that up. There’s video evidence of this feat! [VIDEO]
For Descalso, it was just his fourth hit in 24 spring at-bats (and he later grounded out to go to 4-for-25). Alfonso Rivas followed with a walk, and after a strikeout, P.J. Higgins hit a ball that bounced over the fence in left-center to tie the game. One out later, Cubs minor leaguer Christopher Morel hit what looked like a routine fly ball to left field.
Only it wasn’t. The [VIDEO] includes Higgins’ hit.
The Padres left fielder appeared to trip over his own foot. The ball dropped harmlessly for a two-base error, a tough error, mind you — the fielder never touched the ball, I’d have ruled it a hit. Two runs scored and the Cubs took a 3-1 lead. Jeremy Jeffress allowed a run in the eighth, but Ryan Tepera — throwing 96! — threw a scoreless ninth for the save.
Now, back to the beginning of the game and Yu Darvish’s outing. Darvish struck out four, but also walked four, his command seemed a bit off. He was working even more deliberately than usual. When he left the game after allowing hits to the first two batters in the fourth, no runs had scored off him. Alec Mills hit a batter to load the bases, then recorded a strikeout. A sacrifice fly scored a run, charged to Darvish.
Darvish again was hitting 97 on the Sloan Park pitch speed meter.
And the rest of the Cubs pitchers did a nice job. Casey Sadler threw two scoreless frames. He’s not likely going to be in the Opening Day bullpen, but I believe he is out of options, so the Cubs will have to make a decision about him. Sadler got helped out in the sixth by this nicely-turned double play [VIDEO].
Craig Kimbrel issued a walk in his inning of work (and another hitter reached via catcher’s interference), but he struck out two and looked much better than his last outing.
Thus the Cubs won this game despite having only two hits — Descalso’s single and the double by Higgins. During the regular season, the Cubs have won just three games in the last 20 years with two or fewer hits:
Before that you have to go back to 1999. In all of Cubs history (since 1906) they’ve done this just 25 times.
The Cubs lucked out by scheduling this game at night — three of the other Cactus League games were cancelled by an all-day rain and two others were rain-shortened. There was a brief shower in the middle innings but in general it was a pleasant evening for a ballgame.
I will have further thoughts about the spread of COVID-19 and its effects on the sports world coming up at 9 a.m. CT.
Attendance watch: 11,779 was the announced crowd, and it seemed as if there were about 10,000 in the house, not bad considering the weather. For 10 dates at Sloan Park that makes the season total 125,363, or 12,536 per date.
The weather forecast for the Phoenix area continues to be lousy — rain is expected most of Thursday. If it clears enough to give the Cubs a window to play, they’ll face the Dodgers at 3:05 p.m. CT at Sloan Park. Jon Lester is scheduled to go for the Cubs against Ross Stripling for L.A. TV is via the Marquee Network, and outside the Cubs market territory it will be available on MLB Network.