MESA, Arizona — The Cubs defeated the Diamondbacks 3-2 Tuesday afternoon at Sloan Park.
Why is this a rarity?
Because the Cubs won this game with only two hits, home runs by Willson Contreras with a man on base in the first inning and a solo shot by Ildemaro Vargas in the third.
In the regular season, the Cubs franchise has won 21 games in its history (since 1900) with only two hits. Here’s the entire list. Many of those games, though, were in the Deadball Era and only three have been in the last 20 years, the last August 22, 2019, a 1-0 win over the Giants at Wrigley Field.
Even rarer, though, is a game like this, a win with the only two hits being home runs. Of the 21 games in Cubs history won with only two hits, just one was with the two hits being homers: A 4-2 win over the Expos on April 14, 1985. That’s only happened 16 times in MLB history, the last one a 2-1 Tigers win over the Astros August 21, 2019.
Let’s have a look at those home runs.
Those were both off our old friend Zach Davies, who wound up allowing three runs in three innings. Yup, sounds familiar.
This all could have turned out differently. Justin Steele was very shaky in the first two innings, issuing four walks, and the D-Backs scored a pair of runs in the second and could have had more if not for this good play by Contreras and Steele after Steele threw a wild pitch [VIDEO].
Steele then left the game, but returned in the third (per Spring Training rules) and was better, throwing an efficient 1-2-3 inning. Here’s where Steele stands:
Justin Steele was pulled with two outs in the 2nd inning after facing six batters. Pitch count was up to 46 in the outing. Here in the third, Steele allowed to reenter to keep building up for the Cubs.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 29, 2022
I didn’t get a pitch count for him in the third, but he must have wound up between 55 and 60 pitches.
Other Cubs did well on the mound, too. Scott Effross, who I really like, struck out one and recorded a pair of groundouts. I think he’s almost a lock to be on the Opening Day roster. Mark Leiter Jr. threw three innings, allowing three hits, but didn’t walk anyone and struck out three. While he’ll likely start the year at Triple-A Iowa, I suspect he’ll throw some innings for the Cubs in the majors this year.
And Cayne Ueckert was given the opportunity to save the game in the ninth. Granted, it was against D-Backs minor leaguers, but I think David Ross wanted him in a “game on the line” situation. He allowed a leadoff single, and after a sacrifice bunt got the next two outs to end the game, striking out the final hitter. Ueckert is likely going to close at Iowa and I would expect him to also possibly see the Wrigley pen sometime in 2022.
There were forecasts of rain Tuesday, but other than a brief sprinkle it wasn’t a bad day, though 25 degrees cooler than Sloan Park was on Sunday (65 Tuesday, 90 on Sunday). Attendance was 9,054, making the total for seven dates 69,724, an average of 9,961 per date.
The Cubs play at Sloan again Wednesday facing the Mariners, the only back-to-back home games of the spring. Drew Smyly will start for the Cubs and Marco Gonzales gets the start for Seattle. Game time is 3:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage is via Marquee Sports Network. There will also be a radio broadcast on 670 The Score.