The Cubs appear to go through their spring games getting their work in, replacing starters when needed, relievers are scheduled for specific innings, etc.
The Sox seem to play every game like it’s Game 7 of the World Series. Ricky Renteria brought what very likely is his Opening Day lineup to Sloan Park and used TEN pitchers to get through their 6-3 win over the Cubs. I swear I am not making this up — during the eighth inning, when the Cubs had scored a run and the tying run was on deck, Ricky Sunshine had TWO lefthanders warming up in the bullpen.
I mean, seriously, Ricky, lighten up. There are still almost three weeks until Opening Day. At this rate your guys are going to be exhausted by the end of April.
The Sox scored a run off Jon Lester in the second inning and Jon would have gotten out of the third if not for a couple of lousy calls by plate umpire Alfonso Marquez, who is one of those known for that sort of thing. We don’t have pitch trax boxes on the TV broadcast during spring training, but Lester absolutely had Edwin Encarnacion struck out on two consecutive pitches in the third that were called balls. Eventually Encarnacion walked, and that was Lester’s last batter. Jon did strike out six, so there’s that.
The whole game was like this. Long counts, dragged-out at-bats, etc. etc. etc. Cubs pitchers did strike out 14 White Sox, so there’s that, and Rex Brothers threw two nice scoreless innings. That was after Dan Winkler and Adbert Alzolay got cuffed around for three in the fourth and two in the fifth. Jose Abreu and Adam Engel hit LONG home runs, both to near the back of the berm.
Meanwhile, the Cubs offense started Friday out like they left off Thursday. They finally got a runner past second base when Nico Hoerner was hit by a pitch and went to third on a single by Kyle Schwarber in the fifth. Willson Contreras killed that rally by hitting into a double play.
The Cubs broke a 14-inning scoreless stretch with two in the sixth. David Bote singled in one run and Alfonso Rivas drove in the other, and I’d show you video here but there isn’t any among the highlights available. Oh well, it’s just spring training. The game slogged on for three hours and 44 minutes (felt longer) and if you were watching and gave up, I can’t really blame you.
Before the game, a team of Cubs minor leaguers took the field and Yu Darvish threw three simulated innings, showing no effects from his one-day check at the hospital Wednesday evening. Here’s Yu on what happened:
Darvish on not having coronavirus pic.twitter.com/D2oqCMRZUe— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) March 6, 2020
Darvish is fine and should be back in the mix for Opening Day starter.
Attendance watch: Though it didn’t seem that crowded, this game’s official attendance was 16,095, which the team announced as a new Cactus League record. That’s technically correct as a “Cactus League” record, because this game March 25, 2019 against the Red Sox drew 16,100. That is officially an “exhibition” game, not a “Cactus League” game, since the Red Sox aren’t in the Cactus League. That makes the season total for eight games at Sloan Park this spring 97,784, or 12,223 per date.
Half the Cubs are heading to Las Vegas to face the Reds Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s Vegas game will feature Alec Mills for the Cubs and Tejay Antone for the Reds (Antone also faced the Cubs Wednesday in Goodyear). That game will be at 3:05 p.m. CT and will be televised on Marquee. The other half of the Cubs squad will head to Goodyear to face the Indians. Kyle Hendricks starts for the Cubs in Goodyear against Adam Plutko for Cleveland. That game will begin at 2:05 p.m. CT and there will be radio coverage on 670 The Score. No TV for the Goodyear game.