MESA, Arizona — The Cubs again played a pretty solid Cactus League game, this time against their South Side rivals, but it wasn’t quite good enough, and thus their eight-game (Cactus League) and nine-game (overall) winning streak ended in a 4-3 defeat to the White Sox at Sloan Park.
Drew Smyly became the first Cubs starter to throw four innings this spring, and they were good, solid innings, with no walks and no pitch timer issues. Smyly was helped out by this outstanding defensive play in the first inning [VIDEO].
Nice play by the Gold Glover in left, Ian Happ, an excellent relay by Zach McKinstry and a really good swipe tag by Tucker Barnhart. Thus you see the value of strong defense, something I think will be a hallmark of this year’s Chicago Cubs.
Here’s a strikeout by Smyly of Andrew Vaughn, one of two he had on the day:
Drew Smyly strikes out Andrew Vaughn pic.twitter.com/wQ20QLgHiO— Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) March 10, 2023
I agree with this take:
Not that we were discouraged, BUT if you were discouraged or worried about Drew Smyly, he’s looked good today, for however much you care about Spring Training performance.— CHGO Cubs (@CHGO_Cubs) March 10, 2023
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the third. Happ doubled, went to second on a throwing error and took third on another Sox misplay. Eric Hosmer then drove him in [VIDEO].
Hosmer had two hits on the afternoon before departing. He’s now hitting .333 (6-for-18) this spring, with one double. Small sample size, yes, but Hosmer will probably serve as at least a decent MLB first baseman.
The Sox took a 2-1 lead off Ryan Borucki in the fifth, on a two-run homer by Bryan Ramos. Another solo Sox homer, by Seby Zavala in the eighth off Caleb Kilian, made it 3-1.
The Cubs, in the meantime, got shut down after the third by several Sox relievers, getting just four hits between the fourth and eighth innings.
In the ninth, the Sox first two hitters singled and doubled, and that run making it 4-1 turned out to be important. By the bottom of the ninth all the Cubs starters were gond, but four singles off Declan Cronin scored a pair and put the Cubs within a run, with two runners on base. But Brad Beesley hit into a double play to end the game, which flew along at two hours, 15 minutes. I’ll just say again how much I enjoy this faster pace of play.
One other thing of note: David Bote played the last three innings at third base and made a slick play on a tough ground ball to end the top of the ninth [VIDEO].
He also singled in his only at-bat. I suspect he’s going to make it tough on management regarding a decision whether to keep him or not. He’s not currently on the 40-man roster, so someone would have to go off to make room. As always, we await developments.
Attendance watch: On the warmest day of the spring so far, 15,128 paid at Sloan Park Friday afternoon, including a lot of Sox fans. That makes the total for seven Cactus League dates 83,964, or 11,995 per date. (The attendance total and average don’t include the game vs. Canada.)
Saturday afternoon, the Cubs again travel to the west Valley to play the Dodgers at Glendale. Hayden Wesneski is the Cubs scheduled starter and Noah Syndergaard will start for L.A. Game time is again 2:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. There will also be a radio broadcast Saturday on 670 The Score.