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Cubs 5, Rangers 3: More good pitching, and Cubs vs. Guardians at Goodyear preview, Friday 3/24, 8:05 CT

The Cubs got a good outing from Marcus Stroman. And they have another game tonight.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

MESA, Arizona — Marcus Stroman returned for his first start since the World Baseball Classic, amid the official announcement by MLB that he’ll be starting on Opening Day at Wrigley Field six days from now.

Stroman pitched into the sixth inning and allowed just one unearned run, courtesy of an error by Nick Madrigal, and the Cubs defeated the Rangers 5-3.

The Cubs scored in the first inning on a single by Eric Hosmer. After Texas tied the game on the aforementioned error in the top of the second, Cubs minor leaguer Luis Vazquez doubled in a run to make it 2-1 [VIDEO].

A sac fly by Yan Gomes in the third made it 3-1 and then it was Vazquez again, smashing a two-run homer in the fifth [VIDEO].

The Cubs thought enough of Vazquez to send him to the Arizona Fall League in 2021. He’s a very good fielder, but the rap on him was that he couldn’t hit. He sure did so today, both those RBI hits off a good MLB pitcher, Andrew Heaney. If Vazquez, who is 23, can hit like that in the minor leagues this year, it would be a nice problem for the Cubs to have.

Stroman struck out five in his outing. I don’t have an exact pitch count but I’d guess it was about 75-80. Here are the five K’s [VIDEO].

Javier Assad came in and was touched up for two runs in the seventh, which was finished by Cam Sanders. Then Assad came back into the game and threw two nice innings with a couple of strikeouts. Overall he struck out four and was hitting 94-95 on the Sloan Park pitch meter.

Attendance watch: It was a cool day again, which might have accounted for a smallish crowd of 11,604. That makes the season total for 14 dates 188,430, or 13,459 per date.

This was my final game in Arizona as I’m hitting the road tomorrow in order to get to Chicago by Monday, so I have a couple days before Opening Day next Thursday. Of course there will be game recaps here of the remaining Spring Training games. I thought overall there were lots of positives this spring, and I’ll have more on that before the opener. The one bad thing this year was the weather, cooler and wetter than I can remember any Spring Training in my lifetime. Hopefully, the weather in Chicago will at least be nice for the season when it begins. (I know, don’t count on it.)

Now, on to tonight’s game.

Here are the particulars.

Cubs lineup:

R. Morel RF, Barnhart C, Wisdom 3B, Rios 1B, Torrens DH, Tauchman CF, Bote 2B, Velázquez LF, McKinstry SS

Rafael Morel is Christopher's younger brother. He's 20 and played for the Cubs team in the Arizona Complex League last year.

Guardians lineup:

Kwan LF, Rosario SS, Ramirez 3B, Bell 1B, Naylor DH, Gonzalez RF, Gimenez 2B, Zunino C, Straw C

A bunch of miscellaneous Cubs against basically Cleveland’s starting lineup. What could go wrong?

Adrian Sampson will start for the Cubs. Other Cubs pitchers tonight: Nick Burdi, Mark Leiter Jr. and Manuel Rodriguez.

Zach Plesac will start for the Guardians. Other Cleveland pitchers tonight: James Karinchak, Eli Morgan, Tim Herrin and Hunter Gaddis.

Tonight’s game is on Marquee Sports Network. The channel will be picking up the Guardians broadcast tonight. Here’s a list of providers currently carrying Marquee. There will be a radio broadcast via the Guardians station, WTAM 100 in Cleveland. Gameday

Please note that during spring training, Gameday doesn’t usually go pitch-by-pitch as it does during the regular season — usually, it will update after each at-bat.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today.

Please visit our SB Nation Guardians site Covering The Corner. If you do go there to interact with Guardians fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

As we have done in the past, we’ll have a first-pitch thread at five minutes to game time and one overflow thread, 90 minutes after game time. For today, that will be 8 p.m. CT and 9:30 p.m. CT.

These threads will not post individually onto the front page; instead, you can find links to them in the box marked ”Chicago Cubs Game Threads” at the bottom of the front page. There will also be a StoryStream on the front page with all the game thread links, as well as the recap after the game is over. The pitcher photos and regular-season stats will return on Opening Day.

Discuss amongst yourselves.