Now is the time when you really know it’s spring training. We’re past the opener, we’re past the home opener, we’re into the meat of the schedule with strange and odd rules.
Four times during the Cubs’ 8-8 tie with the Mariners on a day when the wind howled out at Sloan Park at 20+ miles per hour, innings were stopped on a pitch count.
That’s a rule that will be in effect through games of March 13, and I personally don’t mind it but a better effort should be made to let fans know what’s going on, instead of just having players run off the field. It got to the point that when an inning had a couple of walks in it, I’d figure, “Well, this one’s going to end on a pitch count, too,” and a couple of them did.
The wind helped the Cubs to three home runs in this tie game.
The first was by Joc Pederson in the first inning [VIDEO] with Willson Contreras on base.
The wind hadn’t really started blowing that hard at that time, so that one was likely a legit home run even on a non-windy day.
The Cubs added two more in the third after a hit batter, a single and a walk loaded the bases with nobody out. Javier Baez and Jason Heyward hit into force plays, tallying the runs.
Zach Davies threw an efficient first two innings. You can tell that his style is similar to Kyle Hendricks. He induced two ground balls and a weak popup, and struck out a pair. Davies is a very good starter in this league and I expect him to do well.
After Andrew Chafin threw a scoreless third, Brandon Workman made his Cubs spring debut. He allowed a one-out double but would have gotten out of the inning if not for an uncharacteristic throwing error by Baez. After a pop out followed that error, Mariners top prospect Jarred Kelenic smashed a three-run homer, all the runs unearned.
The Cubs turned that 4-3 game into a 6-3 game in the bottom of the fourth. Nick Martini doubled and Anthony Rizzo hit a ball that I think is still going. [VIDEO]
There’s no distance tracking of spring homers but that’s the first one I’ve ever seen at Sloan Park that cleared the right-field berm on the fly. That had to be at least 440 feet, maybe longer. Rizzo nearly had another long hit earlier in the game but had been robbed by Jake Fraley, credit where credit is due [VIDEO].
Nice grab by Fraley, otherwise that’s a two-run double.
The Mariners, by now with their subs in the game, plated two runs off Kohl Stewart in the sixth to tie the game, and the Cubs re-took the lead in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded walk, after which the inning ended on a pitch count.
The Cubs’ third and final homer of the afternoon, making it 8-6, was hit by Michael Hermosillo in the seventh [VIDEO].
That one, you could tell right off the bat that it was up in the jet stream — it nearly cleared the left-field berm, probably 420-430 feet.
That should have been enough for a Cubs win, but Tommy Nance, who won’t make the major-league club, served up a two-run homer to Jack Reinheimer, who was a Cub on a waiver claim for about three weeks in November 2018. The Cubs got the leadoff man on in the bottom of the ninth, but a double play and strikeout ended a game that ran three hours, 26 minutes, largely because of all the walks — 10 drawn by Cubs hitters. Nance, in case you were wondering, was signed by the Cubs in 2016 out of indy ball and has pitched mostly in A ball and Double-A in the organization.
A tie? So what — results don’t mean anything in spring training. It was good to see the bats come alive after two games of not much offense, although the wind had a fair amount to do with that. The guys who will be on the MLB pitching staff accomplished what they needed to do with this game, so it was satisfying in general.
A note about Joc Pederson, who I think will be a big fan favorite — he chose No. 24 in tribute to Kobe Bryant:
Joc Pederson, on wearing No. 24 as a tribute to Kobe Bryant pic.twitter.com/aLDbCNCXEv— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 3, 2021
The Cubs’ next game is a night game — 7:05 p.m. CT Thursday against the Dodgers in Glendale. TV coverage will be through the Dodgers channel SportsNet LA, and it will be carried nationally (no blackouts) on MLB Network. Tomorrow’s game preview will post at 5 p.m. CT.