MESA, Arizona — The Cubs lost to the White Sox 3-1 Tuesday afternoon at Sloan Park, but as you know the results of spring games aren’t as important as the process, or progress of individual players.
Jake Arrieta put together another outstanding outing in this game, allowing five hits and one run over 5⅔ innings, with no walks and three strikeouts. Yes, I know, I know, spring numbers don’t mean much, but Jake now has a 2.40 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 15 spring innings. He threw 87 pitches and ought to be ready to throw seven innings in his first start of the regular season (he should have one more spring outing, coming up Sunday).
The only run he allowed was in the third. Tim Anderson doubled and Adam Eaton singled him in, but Jake got out of the inning with a double play. Arrieta had good defense behind him all afternoon, with several nice plays made by Nico Hoerner at second base.
He also benefitted from a “catch” made by Ian Happ on a ball hit by Yoan Moncada in the fourth — that one looked trapped to me. But Happ retired the only hitter faced by Manuel Rodriguez, who relieved Arrieta with two out in the sixth, with this nice diving grab [VIDEO].
The Cubs had tied the game in the fifth. With two out, Jason Heyward hit a ground-rule double and Hoerner singled him in [VIDEO].
Nico had two of the Cubs’ five hits, also hitting a leadoff triple in the eighth. Unfortunately, he was stranded at third in that inning.
Shelby Miller threw the seventh for the Cubs and struggled a bit, issuing two walks and hitting a batter, including one to ex-Cub Billy Hamilton. Remember when Hamilton was with the Reds and we couldn’t figure out why Cubs pitchers kept walking him? It must have carried over, Hamilton’s almost impossible to walk (although somehow he has four this spring). Eventually Miller got out of the inning on a fly to right.
He’s still in the mix:
Shelby Miller with another shutout inning. Two K, two BB.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 23, 2021
Ross pregame: "I've talked to him about being a swing guy. I've talked to him about one inning. I've talked to him about multiple innings. And I've talked to him about starting."
NRI, still in Opening Day roster mix.
The Sox took a 2-1 lead off Andrew Chafin in the eighth. Eloy Jimenez singled and pinch-runner Jake Remillard stole second. One out later, Luis Robert singled him in.
Pedro Strop got another inning of work in the ninth. In his first outing of the spring Strop’s fastball was sitting at 94-95 miles per hour. Today, it was mostly at 93 and Sox shortstop Danny Mendick hit one of those fastballs almost all the way up the berm in left. Here, have a look at that pitch [VIDEO].
Pedro’s still a work in progress. He looks healthy. He’ll need to get that one or two ticks of velocity back before he can be effective. He might wind up at the alternate site in April.
Those are the key takeaways from a day that wasn’t “sunny Mesa,” as we’re told every day at Sloan Park by PA announcer Tim Sheridan. It was cloudy, windy and chilly; the game time temp of 66 dropped into the upper 50s later in the afternoon, and a few sprinkles passed by, not hard enough to hold up play. I suppose that’s just a way of reminding me of what Chicago weather will be like for baseball starting next week.
One more bit of news, ICYMI: To the surprise of no one, Kyle Hendricks was named Opening Day starter. With the rotation the way it’s been set up the last week or so, he’ll be followed by Arrieta, Zach Davies and Trevor Williams, and then... we’ll see who winds up in the No. 5 spot.
The Cubs travel to Peoria to face the Mariners Wednesday evening. Davies will start for the Cubs and Justin Dunn will go for Seattle. It’s a night game — 8:40 p.m. CT. TV coverage is via the Mariners network ROOT Sports Northwest.