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Cubs 3, Royals 2: Almost history

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The Cubs nearly did something very rare in spring training.

Dan Winkler
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

MESA, Arizona — For six innings of what we knew in advance was going to be a seven-inning game, the Cubs pitching staff looked like they were going into the record books.

No hits had been allowed by six Cubs pitchers, most of whom looked pretty good.

With one out in the seventh, Clay Dungan, a Royals sub wearing No. 98, hit a sinking line drive to left field that Michael Hermosillo tried to make a diving catch on; instead, it went by him for a single and a two-base error. The next hitter, Edward Olivares, homered off Jake Jewell, but the Cubs won the game anyway 3-2.

And if you think they don’t keep track of spring training no-hitters, well, yes, someone does. And at seven innings, this wouldn’t have been an official exhibition no-no, not by MLB rules, anyway.

But give credit to Adbert Alzolay, Dan Winkler, Jonathan Holder, Dillon Maples, Gray Fenter and Brendon Little. They allowed no hits in six innings. The Royals had five baserunners. Alzolay hit the first batter of the game, then had an uneventful inning. Winkler, Fenter and Little walked one each, and Little also allowed a batter to reach on a dropped third strike/wild pitch, but he worked his way out of the jam.

So far, then, Cubs pitching has been really good in two outings this spring.

The offense, though, looked about as mediocre Tuesday as it did Monday, at least for the first three innings. In the first, Nico Hoerner doubled and Jason Heyward singled him to third, but both were stranded. Nothing else happened till the fourth, when Heyward singled and after a walk to Kris Bryant, Heyward advanced to third on a double play. Two more walks followed, which brought up Rafael Ortega with the bases loaded [VIDEO].

Ortega’s triple in the gap cleared the bases and gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead, which was all they needed.

Ortega has been around a number of organizations and has played 143 MLB games for the Rockies, Angels, Braves and Marlins from 2012-19. He’ll turn 30 in May and likely isn’t more than a “break glass in case of emergency” outfielder at Iowa this year.

But, it was still a nice piece of hitting.

After Jewell gave up the two runs in the top of the seventh, the teams played the bottom of the seventh even though the Cubs were ahead. Three quick outs from some non-roster guys against Kyle Zimmer ended the game.

I’ll have much more about today’s experience at Sloan Park in a separate article coming up later, but I did want to note here that the announced attendance was 3,225, a little bit less than the (approximately) 3,500 the Cubs are permitted this spring. I’ll leave it at that for now and put more details in the next article.

Zach Davies will make his Cubs spring debut Wednesday against the Mariners. James Paxton will start for Seattle. Game time is again 2:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on ESPN (full national broadcast, no blackouts). Jason Benetti and Jessica Mendoza will be the ESPN announcers, and Wednesday’s game will be a full nine-inning game.

Now, off to write up the ballpark experience. It’ll be posted soon.