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Cubs 9, Angels 4: A tale of two games

And Joe Maddon’s return to a Cubs home park,

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

MESA, Arizona — The story you all probably saw of the Cubs’ 8-4 win over the Angels was a lot of Joe Maddon’s return and mic’d up players.

So let me tell you the story of the game I saw on a coolish, partly cloudy day at Sloan Park.

The first four-plus innings flew by. Kyle Hendricks was once again vintage Hendricks, inducing weak contact, although also getting some solid defense on this nice diving catch by Ian Happ [VIDEO].

Hendricks retired all nine batters he faced. The Cubs went out 1-2-3 in the first and second. Happ gave them the lead with one out in the third [VIDEO].

That was Happ’s first spring homer.

Jeremy Jeffress threw a solid 1-2-3 inning and looks like he could be a real asset to the bullpen this year. Jharel Cotton issued a one-out walk in the fifth, the Angels’ first baserunner. Cubs pitchers, though, allowed no hits through five.

Cotton fell apart in the sixth. A single and a home run by former Cub Tommy La Stella gave the Angels a 2-1 lead, and after another hit, Cotton was removed.

That’s when the game sloooooowed down. The first five innings took about an hour and 20 minutes. The next two took an hour and 10.

There was good reason for that. The Cubs piled all over Angels reliever Cam Bedrosian. The first four hitters off him reached. The bases were loaded on two walks and a hit when Kyle Schwarber cleared them [VIDEO].

Yet more power shown by Schwarber to the opposite field. Given his strong second half of 2019, I think he’s primed to have a huge year in 2020.

Two more runs scored in the Cubs sixth, one of them courtesy of this double by Victor Caratini [VIDEO].

Cubs prospect Tyson Miller was touched up for a run in the seventh and another in the eighth, but the sub Cubs matched each of those, including this homer by Noel Cuevas [VIDEO].

Cuevas has some MLB experience with the Rockies (155 PA over the last two seasons). He won’t make the Opening Day roster, but could be an intriguing guy to have at Iowa in case of injury.

The story you all saw, of course, was Maddon’s return to Sloan Park. Here he is walking in with ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers and reminiscing. [VIDEO]

Truth be told, I was a bit disappointed that the Cubs didn’t put together a short tribute video to Maddon for the Sloan Park video board. The crowd gave him ovations every time he stepped on the field, justifiably so. Unless the Cubs and Angels somehow meet in the World Series, Maddon won’t be back at Wrigley Field as a manager.

Here’s a photo of the old boss meeting the new boss:

Pat Canty

Attendance watch: 10,286 were at Sloan Park to see Joe’s return. I expected a few more; the fact that this was on a Monday afternoon before a lot of spring breaks begin, plus there was a forecast of rain (which didn’t happen, fortunately) probably kept the crowd down a bit. That makes the season total for six dates 71,159, or 11,860 per date.

There’s not much time at all before the Cubs’ next game — a split squad contest vs. the Athletics at 8:05 p.m. CT tonight. The game is on MLB Network (it’ll be the A’s NBC Sports California feed) — no blackout in the Chicago market. No radio for this one, though.

Here’s the rest of the info for tonight’s game.

Cubs lineup:

Descalso 2B, Almora CF, Heyward RF, Bote 3B, Phegley C, Garcia DH, Perez SS, Joseph 1B, Miller LF

Athletics lineup:

Semien SS, Grossman LF, Canha CF, Olson DH, Pinder RF, Murphy C, Brown 1B, Neuse 3B, Barreto 2B

Alec Mills will start for the Cubs. Cubs relievers tonight: Jason Adam, James Norwood, Casey Sadler, Justin Steele and Ryan Tepera.

Frankie Montas will go for the A’s. Relievers for Oakland: Liam Hendriks and Lou Trivino, Gameday

Please note that during spring training, Gameday doesn’t usually go pitch-by-pitch as it does during the regular season — usually, it will update after each at-bat.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today.

Please visit our SB Nation Athletics site Athletics Nation. If you do go there to interact with A’s fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

For spring-training games, we’ll have a first-pitch thread at five minutes to game time and one overflow thread, 90 minutes after game time (because I know how you all like overflow threads!). For today, that will be 8 p.m. CT and 9:30 p.m. CT.

A full recap of tonight’s game will post at the usual time, 8 a.m. CT tomorrow.