Half of the Cubs split squad ventured to Scottsdale to take on the Giants on Saturday afternoon. They jumped out to an early lead behind Cole Hamels and were able to cruise to an 8-0 victory.
Javy Baez jump-started the offense in the 2nd inning with a single off of Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez and would later come around to score on a Jared Young RBI single. Trent Giambrone continued his hot spring with an RBI single of his own to give the Cubs an early 2-0 advantage. Young would finish the day 2-for-4 with a single and a double.
Kris Bryant extended the Cubs lead to 4-0 in the 6th with an RBI double. Having a healthy Bryant in the everyday line up will be a huge plus for a Cubs offense that faded down the stretch last September.
P.J. Higgins added to the Cubs lead in the 9th with a solo home run off Giants reliever Nick Vincent. Yasiel Balaguert continued the offensive rout with a two-run single of his own and had himself a nice day at the office, going 2-for-2 with 3 RBI.
Hamels was sharp over 3.1 innings of work in his second Cactus League start. He had to work around a tight strike zone in the 1st inning, but despite issuing two early walks he found his groove and settled in nicely. Hamels’ best weapon of the day was his changeup, as he was able to effectively use it to get ahead in counts.
Carl Edwards Jr. worked a clean bottom of the 6th inning with a strikeout. Edwards has struggled with command issues over parts of the past two seasons, but he has added a pause between his kick and stride in the hopes he can find the strike zone with better accuracy.
Offseason acquisition Kyle Ryan also pitched two innings, allowing two hits and a strikeout. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs won
Two three-run outbursts in the 2nd and 9th innings carried the Cubs to victory.
A three-run 2nd inning gave the Cubs a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. RBI singles from Young and Giambrone, followed by a sacrifice fly Wynton Bernard, put the Cubs up 3-0.
Stats That Matter
- Hamels’ line: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 3 K, 2 BB
- Bryant: 1-3, double, RBI
- Baez: 1-3, run scored
- Giambrone: 1-3, RBI
- Edwards: 1 IP, 1 K
Hamels pitched well and the offense continued to put up crooked numbers. Non-roster invitees Giambrone and Phillip Evans continued hitting, giving Cubs management something to think about when they break camp on March 28.
The Cubs visit American Family Fields of Phoenix to take on Central Division foe Milwaukee on Sunday at 3:05pm CT. Kyle Hendricks will take on Brewers starter Corbin Burnes and the game will be available on both 670 The Score and WGN.