Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dry Heat

Garza frustrated  
Today was one of those end of spring games that make you ready to see some "real" baseball and at the same time makes you hope the Cubs are ready to play some "real" baseball. The Cubs went down to a split-squad Arizona Diamondbacks team at Hohokam 15-8 in front of 11,309 fans.

While the fans were enjoying the amazing AZ weather (82 degrees and sunny), Cubs starting pitcher Matt Garza was not. Garza who had trained in the Grapefruit League his whole career is in his first Cactus League spring and had another rough outing. After he finished pitching today Garza said, "It sucks here. It's so dry, but whatever". Garza was referring to the difficulty he's had gripping the ball in the dry desert conditions.

Cubs coaches on the phone a lot today, Bench Coach Pat Listach 
Garza and the Cubs hope that the more humid air in Chicago is the remedy to his pitching woes as today continued his tough spring. Garza started against a split squad Diamondbacks team that only included a couple starters and the Cubs pitcher was rocked 7 runs in 3 innings off 11 hits, but whatever. Perhaps the only positive note today for Garza was the 7 Ks of DBacks hitters. Scott Maine (5), Jeff Samardzija (2), and Esmailin Caridad (1) gave up the other 8 runs to the Diamondbacks. Early on things were so bad for Cubs pitching that Diamondbacks 2nd baseman Kelly Johnson had 4 hits in the first 4 innings. Ex Cub Xavier Nady greeted Maine with a Grand Slam (where was that last season from Nady?)  Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood each tossed a 1-2-3 scoreless inning.

Pena double clears the bases
The Cubs did some hitting themselves mainly in the 3rd inning when they had 5 consecutive hits which ended up scoring 5 of their 8 runs. Jeff Baker was 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs, Carlos Pena had 3 RBIs on his bases loaded double. Starlin Castro had a double and scored 2 runs. Aramis Ramirez reached base 3 times, with an RBI single and two walks finishing the spring season hitting .346. Ramirez was charged with a throwing error as well.

Our Hohokam Stadium Manager Mark Gallo's 3 year old daughter Katie led the fans in the Pledge of Allegiance prior to the start of today's game.  She did a great job and received rousing applause from the crowd. This was one long game lasting over 3 and a half hours, sometimes I can tell even before a game gets going if it has a potential for this. Like today, when I looked at the starting lineups and saw the Diamondbacks had 3 players each wearing the number 46. That's right 3 players in the DBacks starting line-up all wearing #46 - Only in spring training.  Kerry Wood received another loud ovation when he entered the game in the 9th.

I thought I'd died and gone to Hooters when I showed up for the pre-game press room meal today and serving us were the Tilted Kilt girls (the Tilted Kilt is a Bar/restaurant). Sitting on the tables was the Tilted Kilt Calendar, featuring a different server each month. I think my wings were served by Ms. November, but I'll have to study the calendar closer to be sure.

Cool customer Castro blowing bubble hitting double 
Note to Mike Quade, the Cubs are back in AZ in less than a month for a 4 game series against the Diamondbacks starting April 28th, it may be wise to avoid pitching Garza as it is likely to still be dry here. Be sure to check out our BOS Cubs season preview video program on Thursday with guest Len Kasper. Hear what Len has to say about the upcoming Cubs season. Tomorrow the Cubs play an intra-squad exhibition game against their Minor League All-Stars at Hohokam, the game starts at 11:05 AM AZ time with proceeds going to Chicago Cubs Charities. Randy Wells is scheduled for his final start of the spring against the Cubs Minor League All-Stars.

Photos by BOS's John Antonoff


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