Anthony Rizzo didn’t have a great 2020 season but if spring 2021 is any indication (and of course, spring numbers often aren’t), he’s in line to come back strong from the pandemic season.
Rizzo went 3-for-3 and the Cubs defeated the Athletics 6-1 Friday afternoon. The game was at the Cubs’ former spring home, HoHoKam Stadium, now spring home of the A’s, but you couldn’t tell that from the sound of the many Cubs fans audible on the A’s webcast.
It’s getting to the point where mentioning HoHoKam as the Cubs’ “former spring home” won’t need to be mentioned. It’s been eight years since the Cubs were the home team there; only Rizzo among current Cubs was on the team when they were the host ballclub, and personally I have not attended a game there since 2017. The A’s have made it their own, renovating it and painting it green, and while I have many good memories from the Cubs’ 1979-2013 tenure there, it’s Oakland’s park now.
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the second inning thanks to another hot spring hitter, Willson Contreras:
Willson loves hitting homers. pic.twitter.com/zwWV5N8Yna— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) March 19, 2021
Hard to tell how far that ball went, but Willson knew it was gone off the bat.
The A’s scored an unearned run off Zach Davies in the second, tying the game, thanks in part to an error committed by Ian Happ after a one-out single.
The Cubs took the lead back in the top of the third. With one out, Happ walked and Rizzo followed with this double:
Before Happ’s walk, Davies had gone to bat and appeared not very interested in doing anything — he struck out on three pitches. The A’s announcers got into a discussion of the universal DH and mentioned that it shouldn’t be used as a bargaining chip. No matter how you feel about the universal DH, I think you’d agree on that.
The Cubs put the game away with a four-run fourth that featured a bases-clearing three-run double by Happ and then an RBI single by Rizzo, his third hit of the game. Rizzo is now hitting .400/.516/.800 (10-for-25) this spring with a double and three home runs. Those four runs were all off J.B. Wendelken, who’s been a pretty good reliever for the A’s since 2018.
Davies threw well, though he did issue three walks. He allowed just the one unearned run and his spring ERA is 0.00 in nine innings.
Rex Brothers, who has a chance to make the Opening Day roster with Kyle Ryan on the shelf, threw a scoreless fifth in relief. So did Ryan Tepera in the sixth. Brad Wieck walked a pair in the seventh, but did not allow a run and eventually struck out the side. Justin Steele didn’t allow a run in the eighth and James Norwood allowed a leadoff double but nothing else in a scoreless ninth.
Overall the Cubs pen threw five shutout innings, allowed two hits, walked three and struck out nine.
This article by Jordan Bastian details some of the current thinking about who’s going to make the Opening Day bullpen.
The Cubs return to Sloan Park Saturday to take on the Colorado Rockies. Trevor Williams will start for the Cubs and Austin Gomber will go for Colorado. Game time is 3:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. Beth Mowins will make her debut as the first woman to call play-by-play for a Cubs game. The game will also be on 670 The Score.