Jon Gray started the game against the A-lineup of the Cubs and he was scheduled to go three innings. He was working on his curve balls and he paid the price for serving batting practice curve balls. It’s just spring training folks! The second batter of the game, Jason Heyward, swatted the ball halfway up the lawn in right field. Two innings later, Anthony Rizzo hit what is likely the longest homer of the 2016 Cactus League at Salt Rivers Fields with a 450-foot blast into the second row of cactus plants in the batter’s eye.
Outside of those two blasts, the Cubs were not a threat offensively at all. Gray almost beat himself by issuing three walks while struggling to throw strikes getting only 26 strikes out of 49 pitches thrown. Due to his pitch count limit, Brian Schlitter replaced Gray with two outs in the third to get the final out. Tyler Anderson pitched the next two innings and he was the opposite of Gray with three strikeouts (including a strikeout on Kris Bryant) and one walk to go along with one hit allowed. Anderson looks completely healthy and is picking up where he left off two years ago.
Carlos Estevez, Simon Castro, Sam Moll, and Brock Huntzinger (a NRI) combined for four shutout innings to close out the game against mostly C-team players of the Cubs. S. Castro struggled in the seventh before getting the third out in a bases-loaded jam. Moll threw very well getting two backward Ks in a clean eighth.
The Rox regulars again struggled to find any kind of a offensive rhythm. The Cubs gifted the Rockies a couple of runs in the fifth. Two walks followed by a D.J. LeMahieu double which really was an error (IMHO) scored the first run. Jorge Soler was playing in left field and he tracked down DJLM’s drive but had the ball bounce off the heel of his glove. Apparently the scorekeeper scored it a double as if Soler lost the ball in the sun, but it was an overcast day. After the double, CarGo scorched a laser right at Rizzo that he couldn’t handle. The ball caromed over to the second baseman and he flicked the ball back to first base for the second out scoring Blackmon from third base.
In the sixth, the Rox really manufactured runs without any gifts from the Cubs defense. The regulars needed a organizational filler Neil Ramirez to get the two-run rally going. Geraldo Parra single was followed by Mark Reynolds’ RBI double. Then Ryan Casteel brought Reynolds home with a base hit up the middle for a 4-2 lead which became a final score.
Raimel Tapia, Ryan McMahon, Tom Murphy, and David Dahl made their brief appearances late in the game. The outfield (Tapia and Dahl) defense looked good with excellent routes. Tapia had a chance to make a highlight reel play in right field off the fence, but the ball was just out of reach. Rosell Herrera did a great job backing up Tapia to quickly return the ball back to the infield.