Some minor-league and non-roster Cubs put two runs across the plate off Reds reliever Cody Reed in the ninth inning, helped out by an error, and so the game wound up in a 6-6 tie Wednesday afternoon, but as usual for spring training, pay no attention to the final score. It means nothing.
What did mean something in this game was a fine outing from Tyler Chatwood. He threw three innings and struck out five. He allowed one hit, a solo homer by Derek Dietrich. That’s okay! That was the Reds’ only baserunner off Chatwood, and that meant he didn’t walk anyone. So that’s progress. Oddly, he bounced in the first pitch he threw and then really settled down. Both he and Alec Mills, candidates for the fifth-starter role, have thrown well this spring. Either could win the job. I’d lean toward Chatwood with Mills available for long relief, but it could go the other way, too.
The other significant appearance in this game was by Craig Kimbrel, the Cubs closer in his first spring outing. Kimbrel also served up a home-run ball, by Josh Van Meter, but again, that really is not concerning this early in the spring. Kimbrel struck out two and looked like he had good velocity and good movement on his pitches. Here he is after the game:
Kimbrel after first Cactus League outing (with K. Bryant cameo) pic.twitter.com/RpVc4O3ru7— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) March 4, 2020
This is why you shouldn’t worry about Kimbrel:
Kimbrel said sitting 95-96 at this point in the spring was a good sign and that he expects to ramp up more as the season approaches. Said the homer was just poor location, ball didn't have the action he wanted. Felt good for first spring outing.— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) March 4, 2020
Also of interest in this game, former Cub Pedro Strop threw a scoreless inning, allowing one single. He also made some post-game remarks:
Strop after facing old teammates pic.twitter.com/Pc6vXSV1Dq— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) March 4, 2020
And here’s something I think we all knew, but it’s pretty stark to read it here in specific terms:
Strop said Cubs tried hard to sign him but couldn’t spend what Reds offered. Said they told him they were trying to stay under the “salary cap”— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) March 4, 2020
And if you didn’t know that before, now you do.
Here’s the first Cubs run of the day, scored on a leadoff double by Kris Bryant, followed by this single by Javier Baez [VIDEO].
I suspect we’ll see a lot of that this year. KB seems like a very good leadoff hitter.
Trent Giambrone, who’s not going to make the 26-man roster, also drove in a run in this game [VIDEO].
That hit scored Daniel Descalso, which is news in itself, because it meant Descalso was actually on base. On a hit, no less! Descalso is now 2-for-16 this spring. I still don’t think he’ll be a Cub on March 26.
The Reds plated an unearned run off Kyle Ryan in the fifth thanks to an uncharacteristic error by Hernan Perez, who I do think will be on the 26-man roster regardless. That tied the game; Giambrone drove in another run with a sixth-inning single to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead. But the Reds scored a pair off Brock Stewart in the seventh to give them the lead, and eventually, the win. One last Cincinnati run scored on a couple of walks and a pair of wild pitches by Caleb Simpson in the last of the eighth. After the Cubs tied up the game in the top of the ninth, minor leaguer Luis Lugo allowed a couple of baserunners in the bottom half, but the inning and game ended on a double play.
The important takeaway from this game, though, was that both Chatwood and Kimbrel threw well.
The Cubs return to Sloan Park Thursday afternoon to face the Texas Rangers. Former Ranger Yu Darvish will face his old team, and Jonathan Hernandez will go for Texas. Game time is again 2:05 p.m. CT, and TV coverage will be on the Marquee Network. There will be a MLB.com audio feed with the Rangers announcers.