MESA, Arizona — The Cubs could not figure out Reds starter Hunter Greene, almost not at all. Greene didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning and allowed the Cubs no runs. He looked far better than we saw him last year and if he can ever harness his command, he’s going to be a force in this league.
But Cubs hitters then feasted on the Reds bullpen, specifically Levi Stoudt. Stoudt allowed three homers in a six-run sixth, one each by Trey Mancini, Patrick Wisdom and Christopher Morel, and the Cubs hung on for an 8-6 win. If you’re counting yesterday’s non-Spring Training game, that’s nine straight wins for the Cubs, and eight straight in the Cactus League.
Also victimized by the home-run ball was Cubs starter Jameson Taillon, who served up a pair of homers in three-plus innings of work, one of them a three-run job by Luke Maile in the first inning.
That, plus one run allowed by Danis Correa in the fourth, put the Cubs down 5-0 entering the sixth. That’s when the fun began.
Ian Happ led off with a single, and after Dansby Swanson struck out, Mancini made it 5-2 [VIDEO].
Eric Hosmer and Yan Gomes followed with singles, and then Wisdom smashed his first homer of the spring [VIDEO].
As you know, when Wisdom hits these, he sometimes goes on a tear. Maybe it’s different in the spring, when players don’t necessarily play every day, but I’ll be watching to see if Wisdom starts to hit for power.
Then Morel gave the Cubs a 6-5 lead [VIDEO].
The Cubs extended the lead in the seventh. Luis Torrens hit an RBI double and Sergio Alcántara drove in Torrens with a single to make it 8-5.
In the ninth, a bit of sloppy defensive work and a wild pitch by Julian Merryweather gave the Reds a run back, but that’s where it ended, 8-6 Cubs. In general, Cubs relievers were good in this game, with Michael Fulmer, Rowan Wick, Brandon Hughes and Tyler Duffey each throwing a scoreless inning. Fulmer is beginning to look like he might be the team’s closer when Opening Day hits, three weeks from today.
With the pitch clock back in use, even with a very long sixth inning and lots of hits and runs on both sides, this game ran just 2:23. Love it. In regular-season games I would guess these games running 2:15 or 2:20 will probably be 10-15 minutes longer, but that’s still a huge improvement in pace of play.
Cody Bellinger didn’t play in this game but David Ross had some comments about him:
@D_Ross3 on Bellinger: pic.twitter.com/ljBTWg10yP— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) March 9, 2023
Attendance watch on a beautiful sunny afternoon: 10,586. That makes the total for six Cactus League dates 68,836, or 11,473 per date.
Friday afternoon brings us the first Cubs/White Sox clash of the spring at Sloan Park. Drew Smyly will start for the Cubs and Lucas Giolito will go for the Sox. 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 Friday on 670 The Score.