MESA, Arizona — Would someone please let the weather people know that it’s March and that any time spring would like to arrive in the Valley of the Sun, it’d be okay with me?
This... this should not happen:
Anyway, on a blustery, cloudy day with a few sprinkles of rain, more reminiscent of Opening Day at Wrigley Field than “sunny Mesa” in March, the Cubs defeated the Mariners 5-3 Wednesday afternoon.
Let’s look at some of the good stuff that happened.
Hayden Wesneski, making his first spring start, looked pretty sharp. He struck out four in two innings of work and didn’t allow a run. Here are Wesneski’s four strikeouts [VIDEO].
Roenis Elias, who is waging a non-roster battle for a roster spot, was given three innings in this game. Well, almost three, because he ran out of gas in the third inning he threw and allowed back-to-back homers by Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic. Before that, though, he was striking out quite a few Mariners and looked sharp. Keep an eye on Elias.
The Cubs, meanwhile, couldn’t do anything with Mariners starter Robbie Ray, who struck out five and allowed only one hit. In the fourth, though, the Cubs put five on the board. They loaded the bases off Matt Brash and Yan Gomes struck this two-run double [VIDEO].
Nelson Velázquez then walked and Christopher Morel singled, scoring Trey Mancini to make it 3-0.
Then Nico Hoerner hit what looked like a single to right. Unfortunately, Velázquez had dived back toward second because it looked like the line drive off Hoerner’s bat might be caught. Kelenic threw Velázquez out at third on what wound up a force play. I don’t blame Velázquez for this, he kind of had to do it, but the result was an out and a run scoring making it 3-0. An RBI single by Ian Happ completed the Cubs’ five-run fourth.
After that, some Cubs relievers had good days — Vinny NIttoli and Michael Rucker threw scoreless innings. But Brendon Little got touched up for a run in the eighth, making it 5-3. Manuel Rodriguez finished up with a scoreless ninth for the save. I know Little was a first-round pick but I have not seen anything from him, either last year in Toronto or this spring, to make me think he’s a useful bullpen piece.
There was one pitch clock violation — Wesneski walked Evan White in the second inning [VIDEO].
The game ran 2:35, which isn’t bad considering there were four mid-inning pitching changes and those eat up two minutes each. The only reason we even get pitching changes in the middle of an inning in spring games is if a pitcher reaches a pre-determined pitch count; minor leaguers wrap up the innings.
Attendance watch: The lousy weather kept the crowd to 8,524. For three dates the total at Sloan Park is 32,836, or 10,945 per date.
The weather’s not supposed to be much better tomorrow — temperatures in the mid 50s, though it should be clear by game time. The Cubs face the A’s at Sloan Park, with Marcus Stroman starting for the Cubs and JP Sears for the A’s. Game time is again 2:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.