In the bottom of the third inning, with a 3-2 count on Javier Baez and the bases loaded, this happened [VIDEO].
Cal Quantrill’s pitch hit Javier Baez — at first, it looked like it was on his wrist, but as we learned later:
Update: Javy Báez pulled as a precaution. Cubs calling it a forearm contusion (aka a bruise).— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 5, 2021
The HBP scored a run, and Javy wasn’t likely to play Saturday anyway, so if he misses a game or two it’s not a big deal. Baez didn’t look happy about it, but Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez seemed to calm him down. A “forearm contusion” probably isn’t too serious.
Before that happened, Craig Kimbrel threw his first inning of the spring and basically, it was a disaster. He struck out one, but also allowed four hits and hit a batter and threw 27 pitches... yikes:
Craig Kimbrel's inning ends after he logs 27 pitches (18 strikes) to six batters. Two whiffs within his 1 strikeout to start things off. But then Cleveland went single, HBP, ground-rule double, RBI single, stolen base, two-run single. Cubs closer sat 94-95, topped at 96. pic.twitter.com/HEeZATf3o3— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 5, 2021
As noted, there was a stolen base involved, too, and then the inning ended on a pitch count.
It’s just the first game of spring for Kimbrel and the results don’t matter but he didn’t look like he had any command at all. Hopefully better the next time.
Alec Mills, who started, threw two good innings and was helped out of one of them with a double play. Before Kimbrel’s awful inning, the Cubs had fashioned a 2-0 lead with single runs in the first and second. The second inning run was a home run by Nico Hoerner, his first of the spring [VIDEO].
The Cubs scored another run on an RBI single by Nico in the fourth, tying the game at 4-4. Dan Winkler and Jonathan Holder threw efficient scoreless innings (hope Kimbrel was watching!) and then Dillon Maples...
You know I have an irrational like for Maples, and the four runs he allowed weren’t entirely his fault. He struck out the first batter he faced, then allowed an infield single to Nolan Jones. Jones stole second and Maples wild-pitched him to third. Then Maples induced a grounder to second baseman Trent Giambrone with the infield pulled in. Giambrone went to the plate, but Jones was safe. Then Abiatal Avelino committed an error, putting two runners on base. Maples struck out Beau Taylor and the inning should have been over... and that’s when Bobby Bradley smashed a three-run homer off Maples.
So... Maples actually pitched pretty well, but had to face too many hitters due to some sketchy defense. It wasn’t as bad an inning as it seemed.
Maples is out of options. Either he makes this bullpen or the Cubs will have to figure out what to do with him.
The Indians scored two more runs off Brendon Little in the seventh, and then Anthony Gose came in to finish the game for Cleveland. As I noted in the game preview, Gose was an outfielder for the Blue Jays and Tigers from 2012-16 and has been converted to a pitcher in the Cleveland organization. Lefthanded, he was throwing 97+ and struck out two of the three Cubs he faced. He’s only 30 — he might have a future as a reliever in the big leagues.
So the Cubs have a loss now, to go with three wins and a tie in Spring 2021. I’m sure Javy will be all right in a couple days. I’m not so sure about Craig Kimbrel, though.
Saturday, the Cubs will face the Brewers in an away contest. Shelby Miller will make his first Cubs spring start and former Cub Brett Anderson will start for Milwaukee. Game time Saturday is 2:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via the Brewers TV channel, FSN Wisconsin, available on MLB.TV.