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Rockies 11, Cubs 10: Big leaguers win, minor leaguers lose

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The Cubs were in control of this game until the eighth inning.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — I’m going to start this recap of the Cubs’ 11-10 loss to the Rockies at the beginning. (Good place to start, right?)

I know there are a lot of people who didn’t want to see the Cubs pick up Jose Quintana’s contract option. Or, wanted to see him traded after the Cubs did exercise the option.

Neither of those things happened and here Q was, making his first start of the spring season on a gloriously beautiful March afternoon against the Rox.

Four batters into his outing, I’ll bet you naysayers were having a field day. All of the first four hitters smacked the ball hard and only a nice catch by Ian Happ prevented the score from being worse. Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon doubled, and Nolan Arenado smashed a two-run homer off Q and it was quickly 3-1. (I’ll get to the “1” in a moment.)

But Q settled down after that, getting a called third strike and four groundouts to end his two-inning outing. So which is the real Q? Or do these two innings not really matter because small sample size or “working on things” or “just throwing fastballs”? I’m one of those people who thinks Quintana will be just fine this year. Can’t judge much off a two-inning outing against a good-hitting team. Here are Q’s thoughts on his outing:

And here is the one K Quintana had, a called third strike against former Cub Daniel Murphy [VIDEO].

The “1” I mentioned above was this leadoff homer by Happ [VIDEO].

The Cubs then got some real good relief work from Colin Rea and Rowan Wick. Rea set down all six batters he faced and Wick had a 1-2-3 inning despite a hit, because Raimel Tapia tried to stretch a single into a double and was thrown out by Trent Giambrone, who had taken over for Kyle Schwarber in left field.

While all that was going on, the Cubs had scored two runs in the fourth courtesy of this bases-loaded single by Willson Contreras [VIDEO].

That had given the Cubs a 4-3 lead, and they put across four more in the fifth, the big blow a three-run homer by Donnie Dewees [VIDEO].

You know, anything the Cubs get from Dewees is a big bonus. He was the Cubs’ second-round pick in 2015, was traded to the Royals for Alec Mills in February 2017, and reacquired last March for a minor-league pitcher. Dewees hit .253/.334/.459 with 16 home runs in 111 games at Iowa last year, and there’s still a chance he could carve out a decent career as a backup big-league outfielder.

So the Cubs led 8-3 after five. The Rockies put a pair across against ex-Rockie Rex Brothers in the sixth and by this time, it was all non-roster guys and minor leaguers. The Cubs plated single runs in the seventh and eighth to make it 10-5. A solo homer off CD Pelham in the eighth and it’s 10-6 Cubs heading to the last of the ninth.

This should be easy, right?

I really want to like Dakota Mekkes and would love for him to have a good big-league career, but man, was he bad in this game. He struck out the first batter he faced, then hit a batter, issued a walk and allowed three straight hits to tie the game. Minor leaguer Scott Effross was brought in to try to clean up the mess and he allowed a game-winning single on the first pitch he threw.

The result? Irrelevant. But Mekkes? He just doesn’t look like a major-league pitcher at this point. It’s really too bad.

Other good things from this game:

  • Steven Souza Jr. doubled and drew three walks. He looks just fine running the bases, no apparent effects from his serious knee injury last year.
  • Alfonso Rivas, who was acquired from the A’s for Tony Kemp, is a real prospect. He had two singles in four at-bats and played well at first base. Obviously the Cubs don’t need a first baseman, but he’s a player to watch at Iowa this year.
  • The Salt River Fields scoreboard showed no respect to Jason Kipnis:
Al Yellon

“Kipinis”? Nice try, I suppose.

The Cubs head to the west Valley to face the Reds at Goodyear Wednesday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. CT. Tyler Chatwood starts for the Cubs and the Reds will go with Tejay Antone and I swear I did not make that name up. TV coverage again is on the Marquee Network. Radio is available via WLW 700 Cincinnati with the Reds announcers.