MESA, Ariz. -- The Chicago Cubs tied and lost their duo of Cactus League games Thursday as they were defeated by the San Francisco Giants 8-6 in Scottsdale while battling the Oakland Athletics to a 2-2 final after nine innings in Mesa.
Here’s a look at some highlights:
The Good: Kyle Schwarber hit a grand slam in his first big league spring at-bat in the second inning off of Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong. The blast was preceded by a single by Jorge Soler and a walk to Kris Bryant, setting the stage for the Cubs' 2014 first-round pick. Billy McKinney, acquired with Addison Russell in the deal for Jeff Samardzija last year, also went deep.
In Mesa, Mike Olt provided the offense for the Cubs, clubbing a two-run home run in the second inning before striking out his next time at the plate.
The Bad: It’s not exactly bad, but the combination of the Cubs' top four hitters -- Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Miguel Montero -- went 1-for-8 against the A’s. Pitcher Hunter Cervanka gave up four earned runs in one-third of an inning against the Giants, who tallied five runs in the eighth inning to win the game.
The Weird: A’s pitcher Pat Venditte had Fowler confused for a moment. Venditte is an ambidextrous hurler who warmed up mostly from the right side to begin the third inning, so the switch-hitting Fowler took his warm-up swings lefty.
“I was swinging left-handed because he was throwing right-handed,” Fowler explained. “Then he gets up there and switches, so I asked the umpire. My whole thing was I should be able to take some practice swings instead of just walking up there and having to hit.”
According to Fowler, the pitcher has to declare which side he’ll throw from for the at-bat before the hitter gets in the batter’s box -- but that’s too late for him.
“I wish he would have done it earlier,” Fowler said. “That’s what should happen.”
Fowler took notice that after throwing lefty to him and then Rizzo, Venditte threw a couple of times to his second baseman as a right-hander because righty Starlin Castro was entering the batter’s box. In other words, Venditte got in a couple of warm-up throws before facing Castro. Fowler didn’t think that was fair.
“It was kind of weird,” he said.
Notes: There are people within the Cubs organization as high on Schwarber as they are on minor league player of the year Kris Bryant. That’s how good he might be. And he’s on the same path as Bryant -- neither has stopped hitting since being drafted.
Cubs pitchers who matter looked decent, especially Wood. He worked fast and didn’t just put the ball on a tee as he did most of last season. It’s a start.
Though Olt struck out in his second at-bat after homering, he didn’t go down easily. He worked the count full before fouling off several pitches and then missing on a good offspeed pitch.