SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Wins and losses mean nothing in Spring Training, yet the Cubs’ come-from-behind 6-5 win over the Rockies at Salt River Fields Sunday afternoon felt... well, pretty good. Some guys who could be part of the “Next Great Cubs Team” participated in the ninth-inning rally and the Cubs got good relief pitching, for the most part. It was their fifth win in a row.
Things didn’t start out that way. After the Cubs went out 1-2-3 in the first, Drew Smyly struck out Charlie Blackmon to lead off the bottom of the inning.
That ball, as they say, was crushed, reminiscent of some of the blasts KB used to hit out of Wrigley Field. There’s no official distance given for Spring Training home runs, but that had to be at least 420 feet. You heard the announcers on the clip say it might have hit the concourse. I wasn’t too far from that ball. It bounced on the very back of the berm behind the trees you see in the video and to the concourse behind.
Smyly allowed four more hits in the inning and another run. He threw a decent second inning and then Ryan McMahon homered leading off the third to make it 3-0 Rockies. That was it for Smyly, though I wouldn’t worry too much about this outing.
In the interim, Trey Mancini singled leading off the top of the second and David Bote doubled him in:
David Bote is 8-12 with 5 RBI over 7 games in Spring Training. pic.twitter.com/jdRys38Glb— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) March 5, 2023
Bote was 1-for-2 with a walk on the afternoon, and:
After 2B, David Bote's 7-for-11 with 4 XBH in ST.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) March 5, 2023
Ross today: "If there's MVP so far in camp it's gotta be (Bote) right? ... Even his BP has been very impressive. It's still early but the work he put in & changes he wanted to make in offseason seem to be paying off really well."
I think Bote’s going to force his way onto the Opening Day roster. In fact, if I were David Ross, I’d give Bote some reps in right field just to see if he can do it, since the Cubs could use a right fielder to start the season. Maybe it wouldn’t work but... couldn’t hurt to try.
Fun fact about Mancini’s blast:
Trey Mancini's HR had a 115.1 mph exit velocity— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) March 5, 2023
He has just 1 career regular-season batted ball hit at least that hard:
a 115.5 mph HR on 4/12/17 https://t.co/pm2G9Vyc4x
The Cubs tied the game in the fifth. Nick Madrigal led off with a single (he was 2-for-3 in this game). Dansby Swanson followed with a walk and Ian Happ singled to load the bases. After Mancini struck out, Cody Bellinger drew another walk to score Madrigal and make it 3-3.
After that Cubs relievers Michael Fulmer, Brandon Hughes (spring debut), Michael Rucker and Brendon Little (much better than his last outing) held the Rockies scoreless through seven. It looked like the game might wind up in a tie (since they no longer play extras in Spring Training).
Ryan Jensen, who was the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2019 out of Cal State-Fresno, entered to throw the eighth, also his spring debut. It did not go well. He allowed a pair of hits and three walks and the Rockies took a 5-3 lead.
In the ninth, though, some minor-league Cubs had a nice inning against Logan Allen. With one out, Pete Crow-Armstrong singled. Following a strikeout, the Cubs put together four straight well-struck singles by Brennen Davis, Darius Hill, Andy Weber and Esteban Quiroz to score three times and take a 6-5 lead.
With all the 40-man and NRI pitchers having already been used, a minor league lefty named Didier Vargas threw the ninth. Last year, Vargas split time between Myrtle Beach and South Bend. He got into a bit of trouble with a pair of singles sandwiched around two flies to left, one of which was a nice grab by Davis. Then he struck out Braxton Fulford to end the game, a satisfying result in front of 10,124, probably two-thirds of whom were Cubs fans.
I like what I’m seeing from this team and it’s nice that guys like PCA and Davis are contributing; they’ll be in Wrigley before you know it.
Monday, the Cubs travel back to Peoria, this time to face the Mariners. Hayden Wesneski will make his second spring start and will face our old Reds pal Luis Castillo. Game time is 2:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.