MESA, Arizona — The Cubs couldn’t quite match their Friday no-hitter feat Saturday afternoon at Sloan Park, but Jameson Taillon and six Cubs relievers did nearly as well, scattering five hits and two walks in a 2-0 shutout of the Angels.
Or, some of the Angels. Every time the Angels come to Sloan Park I hope they’ll bring Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, but they never do. We will see them soon enough, as the Cubs will visit Anaheim for a regular-season series in June.
Taillon was sharp, retiring the first six Angels before a leadoff single in the third. He dispatched the next three visiting batters for an outstanding outing that included four strikeouts, which you can see here [VIDEO].
The Cubs got on the board in the bottom of the third. With one out, Mike Tauchman walked and Nico Hoerner brought him home with this triple [VIDEO].
Ian Happ struck out — he K’d three times, not a good one for him — and Cody Bellinger was hit by a pitch.
That was it for the scoring and the Cubs had just three more hits the rest of the afternoon, a double by Tauchman and singles by Patrick Wisdom and Kevin Alcántara.
The lack of offense didn’t matter because the pitching was so strong. Keegan Thompson, making his spring debut, threw a 1-2-3 fourth, and he was followed by Eric Stout, Mark Leiter Jr., Nick Neidert, Ben Leeper and Danis Correa, all of whom threw scoreless innings. Overall Cubs pitchers struck out 12, and there were no walks until the ninth when Correa got a bit wild, issuing a pair of bases on balls.
Fortunately, pitch clock violations have been quite rare this spring; the timer is doing what it’s supposed to. Correa ended the game with a called third strike and the time of this one was the same as Friday night, two hours, 14 minutes. It’s the fastest game I have attended this spring, and yes, it feels very quick and I love it. No wasted time, no batters adjusting batting gloves, nobody spending 30 seconds on their walkup song (those are now also limited, to 10 seconds), and though there wasn’t much offense in this game, it felt like I think baseball should feel — played along at a good pace.
If you have been wondering where Brandon Hughes has been, here’s the answer:
Hughes will be getting in a game soon. He's been throwing bullpens and live BP.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) March 4, 2023
Coming off last year's workload, the most innings of his career, there isn't urgency to get Hughes into a game early. https://t.co/afKWiFsES6
Attendance watch: On an absolutely gorgeous 65-degree afternoon in Mesa, there was another sellout at Sloan Park, 16,040. That brings the season attendance for five dates to 58,250, or 11,650 per date.
Sunday afternoon, the Cubs will travel to Salt River Fields to face the Rockies. Drew Smyly will get the start for the Cubs and Austin Gomber will go for Colorado. Game time is 2:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.