MESA, Arizona — After a long winning streak in the Cactus League last week, the Cubs have had trouble winning games recently, not that wins and losses matter in these contests.
There were some positives even in the 3-1 loss to the Diamondbacks Wednesday afternoon at Sloan Park, so let’s look at a couple of them.
Drew Smyly took the loss, but threw four good innings, making only one mistake, serving up a two-run homer to Caleb Roberts. I had to look him up, along with several other D-Backs in this game, because he wasn’t listed on their 40-man roster or non-roster list. He was Arizona’s fifth-round pick in 2021 out of North Carolina and has played only nine games above A ball.
And yet, there he was, providing the margin of victory for the visitors.
Smyly struck out four in his outing, and you can watch all four K’s here [VIDEO].
I thought he threw pretty well and Smyly became the first Cubs starter to throw in the fifth inning this spring.
Madison Bumgarner started for Arizona and loaded the bases with Cubs with two walks and a hit in the second. But D-Backs manager Torey Lovullo called on reliever Zach McAllister and the Cubs could not score. Then Bumgarner re-entered the game — don’t you love Spring Training rules? — and threw two scoreless innings, striking out three in those two frames.
The Cubs got good relief work, in general — two-thirds of a scoreless inning from Brad Boxberger in relief of Smyly, then full scoreless innings by Michael Fulmer, Keegan Thompson and Nick Burdi. Brandon Hughes, who threw the eighth, was touched up for a single run.
The Cubs scored just once, on a solo homer by Cody Bellinger, his first of the spring [VIDEO].
So that was nice to see.
Not so nice: The Cubs struck out 14 times against Arizona pitchers. Many of those K’s, though, were from Cubs minor leaguers who won’t be anywhere near a big-league field this year, so it’s probably not to worry too much about.
Should we worry about this? Dansby Swanson is 1-for-22 this spring with nine strikeouts. (Hint: No, you shouldn’t worry. Lots of MLB stars have lousy spring numbers and are just fine when the season begins.)
That’s about all I’ve got from the game itself. Attendance watch: Another sellout of 16,029 brings the season attendance total at Sloan Park to 131,177 in 10 dates, or 13,118 per date.
One other Cubs note:
Jameson Taillon pitched in a minor-league game vs. Giants today after his sim game was rained out yesterday. His line: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 on 72 pitches.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) March 16, 2023
Taillon, then, is likely going to go again next Tuesday. Also, Marcus Stroman will start for Puerto Rico tomorrow in their World Baseball Classic quarterfinal against Mexico.
I’d expect another sellout Friday at Sloan Park, when the Cubs take on the Dodgers. Hayden Wesneski will start for the Cubs and Ryan Pepiot goes for L.A. The Cubs are a split squad Friday and the other half of the club heads to Glendale to take on the White Sox. Nick Neidert will go for the Cubs in what’s likely a bullpen game and Mike Clevinger goes for the Sox. Game time for both is 3:05 p.m. CT. The Sloan Park game will be on Marquee Sports Network and the game at Glendale is being carried by NBC Sports Chicago with the Sox announcing team.