It’s a winning streak. Today the Chicago Cubs took down the Kansas City Royals in Surprise, Arizona, to even their Spring record at a still-not-very-meaningful 2-2. The Cubs had 15 hits on the day (all singles, save one Darwin Barney double), made Royals pitchers work, stole four bases, and had solid pitching (until Jeff Beliveau in the 9th).
Speaking of solid pitching…
- So, Jeff Samardzija had a nice day. A very nice day. He pitched three innings (more than the typical two at this stage of the Spring), striking out three, and giving up no more than a bloop single. His fastball sat in the mid-90s (touching the upper 90s), he was economical in his pitches, and his performance was overall described as very, very good.
- What does it actually mean? All Spring caveats apply (weak lineups, pitchers ahead of hitters, Scott McClain, etc.), there are still a half dozen starting pitchers probably ahead of him in the rotation competition, and this is but one, very small data point. But it’s a very small data point that points strongly in one direction. Nothing that happened today should change anyone’s minds. But if it were to happen again and again this month? Then it starts to make you think. Given all the buzz about Samardzija coming from both Dale Sveum and the front office, this is very much worth watching, no matter how steep the hill upon which Samardzija currently climbs.
- Bench hopefuls Joe Mather and Matt Tolbert each got the start today, with a hit apiece in three at bats. We’ll continue to keep an eye on them, but they are facing a numbers game that is not working in their favor. Mather would have to beat out two of Reed Johnson, Dave Sappelt, and Tony Campana to make the team (assuming no trades), and Tolbert would probably have to beat at least four of Adrian Cardenas, Blake DeWitt, Edgar Gonzalez, Bobby Scales and Alfredo Amezega.
- Sappelt had the chance to leadoff today, but came up empty in three at bats.
- Steve Clevenger had a hit in his three at bats. He struck out in the other two.
- Jeff Beliveau, an early favorite to win the “other” left-handed spot in the bullpen had another rough outing. A few hits, a wild pitch, and a general inability to fool anyone, combined to make for an ugly appearance – and that was all before he recorded an out.
- Jay Jackson and Rafael Dolis each threw two innings without giving up an earned run. Dolis has been an organizational favorite for a number of years, and is pushing for a bullpen spot. Jackson is mostly pushing for a spot in the Iowa rotation right now.