Taijuan Walker looked as good as advertised, and the Cubs couldn’t push across enough during a two-run 9th-inning rally. Cubs lose 3-2.
The Cubs managed just six hits total, and one walk against ten strikeouts.
- Travis Wood started for the Cubs, and looked pretty good. Ultimately, he gave up all three of the Mariners’ runs over five innings of work on five hits and two walks, and he struck out three.
- Pedro Strop, Phil Coke, and Hector Rondon followed Wood with a scoreless inning apiece. Each figures to be an important part of the bullpen this year, so hopefully we see many three-inning sets like that.
- Matt Szczur notched yet another extra base hit (a triple), and it’s been really nice to see he and Junior Lake (who briefly saw time at third base last night) having productive Springs. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything for the season ahead, and I still think each is bound for AAA Iowa to start the year, but, based on the way seasons play out, it’s likely each sees time in Chicago this Summer at some point. Hopefully they’ve really taken some steps forward.
- The same (the good Spring part) can’t be said for Ryan Sweeney, whose Spring OPS is under .500 right now. Although he’s under contract for $1.5 million this year, I don’t think that guarantees him a spot on the team, especially given the possibility that the Cubs might not be able to carry a true fifth outfielder with three catchers on the roster. I like what Sweeney flashed with the Cubs in 2013, and I think he was massively unlucky last year, but we’ll see what happens.
- Arismendy Alcantara has been on fire lately, and he added another couple hits. More interestingly, Alcantara moved from second base to shortstop late in the game, fielding a grounder cleanly and helping turn a double play in his two innings there. It would be nice to know that Alcantara can help at shortstop in a pinch – he was a shortstop early in his career – so the Cubs don’t have to carry a dedicated back-up shortstop if Javier Baez doesn’t make the roster.