- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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The good: Jeff Samardzija looked great in the first inning, setting down Arizona in order and then homering at the plate in the fifth. David DeJesus continued a hot spring with two more hits. Even when he makes outs they’re usually good at-bats that result in hard-hit balls. Welington Castillo homered for the second time this spring while Darwin Barney flashed his gold glove, making two nice plays in the second inning to help keep a struggling Samardzija from giving up runs in that frame. Hector Rondon looked good again on the mound in 2/3 innings pitched.
The bad: Samardzija just didn’t look like the same pitcher after the first inning. He walked the opposing pitcher in the third and then gave up a home run and two more hits before the inning ended with three runners crossing the plate. Then he gave up another home run in the fifth. Even a lot of his outs were hard-hit balls, and he had only two strikeouts in five innings. He admitted the results weren’t there but said he felt good.
What we learned: It was clear Samardzija lost something after the first inning. If he’s going to take the next step he needs to be better when his stuff isn’t very good. Walking the pitcher was an indication he failed to do just that. However, he showed maturity afterwards in not panicking and understanding exactly what he needs to do to be ready for opening day. DeJesus is ready for the regular season to begin. No other Cub has been more consistent at the plate. Since manager Dale Sveum lamented the Cubs' lack of offense before Sunday’s game, the Cubs have had two good days at the plate resulting in two wins.