The Cubs were perfect on the spring coming into Wednesday’s matchup against the Mariners, having taken their first two games against the Padres and Royals. Veteran Zach Davies took the mound for the first time since being traded to the North Side from the Padres in a deal that included another pitcher.
Davies looked sharp, pitching two scoreless innings and allowing only one baserunner, and Andrew Chafin followed suit with a perfect inning of work. James Norwood also pitched well, hitting 99 mph on the radar gun multiple times. The rest of the bullpen, however, left something to be desired.
After scoring just four runs in the two games prior, the offense came alive behind home runs from Joc Pederson, Anthony Rizzo, and Michael Hermosillo. Nick Martini got the start at DH and took advantage of the opportunity, going 2-for-2 with hard contact each time up.
The M’s matched the home team blow for blow and rallied in the 9th to knot the score. With the tie, the Cubs are now 2-0-1 in Cactus League action. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Tied
They jumped out to an early 4-0 advantage but the bullpen was unable to keep the Mariners at bay. Free agent addition Brandon Workman fell victim to a Javy Báez throwing error, opening the door for Seattle to put three unearned runs on the board in the 3rd inning. Each time the Cubs padded their lead, the Mariners were able to match.
The Cubs’ biggest addition this offseason, Joc Pederson, had a great at-bat in the opening frame when he delivered a home run to right-center. He worked a 3-2 count and waited back on a Ljay Newsome changeup that caught too much of the plate. Anthony Rizzo hit an absolute bomb to right field in the 4th inning and Michael Hermosillo got in on the fun when he sent one over the wall in the 7th inning.
Stats That Matter
- Davies went two innings, striking out two batters and walking one. He allowed no hard contact.
- Pederson and Rizzo had one home run and two RBI each.
- Both Javy and Jason Heyward drove in one run.
- Norwood lit up the radar gun.
It’s hard to put too much stock in the bullpen’s poor showing when you consider that most of the runs were given up by the likes of Nance, Jason Adam, and Kohl Stewart. More concerning was Workman’s lackluster performance, highlighted by a two-run home run from Jarred Kelenic. To be fair, his defense did him no favors and we’re only three games into spring training so there’s plenty of time for him to right the ship.
The positives were obviously Davies and Chafin, two players the Cubs will rely heavily on this season. It was encouraging to see them get off to a good start on the year.
It’s always nice when the team scores eight runs, but it’s also important they continue to emphasize contact and not rely primarily on the longball. This is something they’ve needed to address for years. Nico Hoerner, the team’s best contact hitter, had the day off in favor of David Bote. This gave the offense a different feel than the first two games.
Next up for the Cubs (2-0-1) is an away game against the Los Angeles Dodgers (2-0) with first pitch scheduled for 7:05pm CT. Free agent signing Trevor Williams will toe the rubber for the Cubs while the Dodgers will send Jimmy Nelson to the mound.