MESA, Arizona — The Cubs made a big splash in free agency after the lockout ended, signing Japanese star Seiya Suzuki to a five-year contract.
And since that signing, we’ve all been waiting for Suzuki to produce something, anything. A couple of walks was it, before Wednesday’s game on a gorgeous afternoon at Sloan Park.
Suzuki homered in the fourth inning for his first hit as a Cub, a two-run smash that highlighted a four-run inning. Clint Frazier also homered and the Cubs defeated the Mariners 8-5, their fourth spring win in a row.
Drew Smyly started this game on short rest, though “short rest” isn’t well-defined in the spring. He had thrown two innings last Saturday, and in this game continued until there were two out in the third. He allowed five hits and a walk, which resulted in one run — on a balk, of all things, I don’t think I can remember the last time I saw an umpire call a balk in a spring game. He also struck out four, and I thought it was a pretty good outing.
The Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the third on this two-run single by Frank Schwindel [VIDEO].
The Mariners tied the game off Robert Gsellman in the fourth. Gsellman wound up throwing two rather shaky innings, also allowing a run in the fifth. He allowed three hits and walked two.
Meanwhile, the Cubs were working on the aforementioned four-run fourth. Ian Happ doubled with one out and one out latere, Nico Hoerner doubled him in (and took third on a throw to the plate). That tied the game 2-2, and Nick Madrigal then gave the Cubs the lead [VIDEO].
That ball was hit on a 2-2 count. Madrigal works counts well. Perhaps “Nicky Two Strikes” would work as a nickname?
The next hitter was Suzuki. Seiya later, baseball! [VIDEO].
I promise not to overuse that saying this year. Hopefully, I will have many opportunities to resist using it.
It was 6-3 Cubs after five, and Jesse Chavez came in and threw two solid innings, striking out the first four Mariners he faced and then ending the sixth with a double play ball after a walk. Chavez has generally looked good this spring and could very well earn an Opening Day roster nod.
Hoerner then doubled, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Michael Hermosillo. That made it 8-3.
Two Mariners runs scored in the eighth off Michael Rucker, who’s likely not going to make this team. Brandon Leibrandt finished up 1-2-3 in the ninth. If that name sounds familiar, he’s the son of Charlie Leibrandt, a longtime MLB starter for the Reds, Royals and Braves in the 1980s and 1990s. Brandon Leibrandt pitched in five games for the Marlins in 2020. He’s 29 and not really a prospect, but since he’s lefthanded the Cubs will likely give him a look at Iowa.
Attendance watch: A sparse crowd of 7,914 attended this afternoon’s game. That makes the total attendance at Sloan Park for eight dates this year 77,638, or 9,705 per date. The Cubs have two home games remaining, but Wednesday’s was my last spring game, as I must head back to Chicago this weekend to get there in time for Opening Day. Of course, coverage of the remaining spring games will continue here.
But not before the Cubs have their only off day of the spring tomorrow. They’ll resume the spring schedule with split squad contests against the Diamondbacks and Brewers Friday afternoon, both away games. At Scottsdale, Kyle Hendricks will face the D-Backs and Madison Bumgarner will start for Arizona. At Phoenix, Keegan Thompson will get the start for the Cubs and Luis Perdomo gets the call for Milwaukee. Both games will start at 3:10 p.m. CT. The game against the Brewers will be televised via Marquee Sports Network (with the Brewers announcers) and the game against the D-backs will be on ESPN 620 Phoenix radio with the D-Backs radio crew and available via MLB Audio.