MESA, Arizona — Javier Baez was hit by a pitch Friday and had what was reported as a “forearm contusion” (in other words, a bruise). He didn’t play Saturday, returned Sunday and Monday served as the designated hitter.
The injury obviously wasn’t anything series, as Baez reached on an error, singled and in the fifth capped a five-run rally with a three-run homer and the Cubs demolished the Rangers 9-0.
The other big story of the game was Zach Davies, who threw three no-hit innings, interrupted only by a walk and a dropped fly ball by Ildemaro Vargas in right field and seriously, why was Vargas playing right field? He’s played right field only once in his MLB career. I realize the Cubs are looking for versatility, but...
After Davies’ three-inning outing, the first for a Cubs starter this spring, he headed back to the bullpen to do some more throwing:
The Cubs had taken a 1-0 lead in th first, thanks in part to a Rangers error. With runners on first and second and one out, Joc Pederson singled in Anthony Rizzo [VIDEO].
Nice hitting by Joc, who is batting .364 with a 1.409 OPS this spring, and good baserunning by Anthony Rizzo.
The Cubs added a run in the fourth. Pederson and Baez singled and Nico Hoerner drove in Joc with a single [VIDEO].
Nico is also having a torrid spring, batting .692 with a 1.808 OPS. Perhaps he will win the second base job after all.
The fifth is when the Cubs blew the game open. With one out, Rizzo singled and was replaced by pinch-runner Alfonso Rivas. This will become important later in the story. Kris Bryant singled Rivas to third, and was replaced by pinch-runner Trent Giambrone.
With a 3-2 count on Pederson, Giambrone took off for second. The pitch was ball four, but Rangers catcher Jose Trevino threw through to second and... Rivas took off for the plate! [VIDEO]
You won’t see that too often, and Rivas isn’t a base stealer — he has nine in 183 minor-league games. Rivas is a guy to watch. He’s 24 and has a .390 career OBP in the minor leagues.
Once again, there’s no distance tracker for spring home runs at Sloan Park, but that had to be at least 430 feet, clearly gone off the bat. So... nice to see Javy showing no after-effects of that HBP. I’m sure he’ll be back in the field, if not tomorrow, then Wednesday.
The Cubs scored one more in the inning on a single by Ildemaro Vargas to make it 7-0.
The Cubs added a run in a sixth inning that was played by what seemed to be “B” game rules. The fifth had been ended on a pitch count, and in the sixth... guys batted out of order and players who are listed in the box score didn’t even seem to be in the game at all. So... the play-by-play says Tyler Payne — who isn’t even on the roster — singled and he was doubled in by Taylor Gushue, but those shouldn’t have been the batting-order positions that were next. Then they skipped the No. 1 spot in the order completely.
Hey, it’s spring 2021. Weird things are going to happen.
Cubs pitching allowed just two hits, one off Kohl Stewart in the fourth, the other a one-out double off Trevor Megill in the seventh.
They played the bottom of the seventh despite the fact that the Cubs were ahead and our old friend Spencer Patton threw for the Rangers. Chase Strumpf hit a one-out homer off Patton to complete the scoring.
The Cubs play at Sloan Park again Tuesday, facing the Athletics. Trevor Williams will start in front of the home fans for the first time this spring. Cole Irvin will start for the A’s. Game time again is 2:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage is via Marquee Sports Network.