The Cubs traveled to Camelback Ranch in Glendale to take on their Crosstown rivals on Friday afternoon. It was a slugfest from the get-go, as Albert Almora Jr. led off the game with a home run to left field, one of the few Cubs hits that was actually pulled in the 11-9 win.
Cole Hamels started for the Cubs, while Lucas Giolito started on the bump for the Sox. Both starters looked good for stretches and then proceeded to get shelled in others, but neither figured in the decision. Dueling parades of relievers did their fair share of giving up runs, but the Cubs relievers just figured out a way to give up fewer.
Hamels was good at the start, then got into trouble in the 3rd when he gave up a couple hits and a walk before Yoan Moncada hit a bomb to left. The good news is the Cubs offense was taking part in bludgeoning just about every Sox pitcher that went out there, racking up 18 hits and scoring runs off the first four pitchers the South Siders ran out there.
The Cubs had a notable opposite-field approach on the day, pounding balls all over the field with authority. Almora had three hits, adding an RBI single to left and another up the middle to the homer. Jim Adduci homered to center, Mark Zagunis hit an oppo taco to right-center, and Wynton Bernard hit one out to right-center as well.
All three Cubs hits in the 7th inning were the opposite way as Kyle Schwarber, Johnny Field, and Phillip Evans collected hits, the latter two driving in runs. Nico Hoerner got into the oppo party later with an RBI double to right.
Why the Cubs won
They pounded the ball all day. Almora and the gang had their hitting shoes on and did what they should do against mediocre pitching: Hit it hard and often. The Cubs’ pitching wasn’t great, but it didn’t have to be.
Almora destroyed an 0-1 fastball from Lucas Giolito to lead off the game, setting the tone for an offensive explosion that didn’t let up.
Stats That Matter
- Almora was 3-for-4 on the day with 3 RBI
- Hoerner’s 1-for-2 performance actually lowered his spring average to .636. Kid can hit.
- Dillon Maples looked nasty despite a walk and HBP in the 6th inning. If he can continue to walk the tightrope and get outs while limiting walks, his stuff is as good as anyone’s on the a team that may be in need of bullpen help.
The offensive approach today was promising and is exactly what we expect and want to see. The potential is there, it’s just a matter of doing that consistently.
The Cubs head to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale Saturday for a 3:10pm CT game against the Diamondbacks. Kyle Hendricks takes the ball for the Cubs, Matt Koch takes the hill for the D-backs.