The good: Once again Cubs bats came out strong with a four-hit, two-run first inning followed by a four-run third. That’s when most of the starters played, and several contributed in a big way. Luis Valbuena and Darwin Barney led off the game with back-to-back doubles (Barney was thrown out at third) followed by a Nate Schierholtz home run. Then Welington Castillo hit a long ball in the third while Darnell McDonald followed that up with a three-run shot.
The bad: Because of a 16-pitch first at-bat by Dee Gordon of the Dodgers, the Cubs' pitching plans were messed up, forcing them to use “emergency” relievers including Dontrelle Willis. Willis threw seven pitches, walked a man and then left the game after a trainer came out to the mound. He earned the loss. Cubs pitchers walked nine hitters in the game.
What we learned: Cubs hitters are definitely ahead of a normal pace in spring. Each day going back to intra-squad games, starters have shown both an aggressiveness in driving the ball as well as patience in picking out good pitches. Castillo’s home run a day after Dioner Navarro went long is a good sign, as is Schierholtz’s bat. He had two hits on Monday. He says he’s seeing the ball well, as it seems most of the Cubs hitters are. We also learned Willis isn’t ready to return to competitive baseball just yet.
What’s Next: The 2-1 Cubs return to HoHoKam Park on Tuesday to face the Colorado Rockies.