The turnout was big for the last game at Sloan Park this spring and the Cubs were not about to leave the sellout crowd wanting. Kyle Schwarber led off the home half of the 1st — because, you know, he’s a leadoff hitter and that’s what he does — with a home run, his fourth of the fake season.
Schwarber has also shown the ability to push bunts down the third base side — because, you know, he’s a leadoff hitter and that’s what they do — and take a few pitches. That patience and craftiness will make his monstrous power that much more effective, perhaps even converting a few of the “his bat is wasted there” hethens.
I’ve shared before that a leadoff homer in the bottom of the 1st gives the home team a 69 percent chance of winning. It sure looked like that was going to be the case when a beefed-up Albert Almora — who may be batting in the nine hole(!) — stepped to the plate later in the inning and lambasted a Santiago Casilla offering for a grand slam.
Kris Bryant singled to score Carlos Penalver in the 2nd and push the score to 6-0, but it didn’t stay there long. Having already warmed up sufficiently, John Lackey wasn’t about to let his offense think it could just set the cruise and coast for seven innings.
In an effort to make his teammates work a little, Big John allowed a two-run homer to Marcus Semien in the 3rd inning. But when Lackey’s battery-mate, Willson Contreras, ordered an oppo taco to push the lead back to five runs, the grizzled righty really went to work.
After a groundout by the A’s Stephen Vogt, Lackey buckled down and allowed a pair of singles before hitting a batter to load the bases. He then walked in a run, but did in the old-fashioned way, not any of this no-pitch business all the snowflakes have instituted. Adam Rosales then proceeded to strike out, which just wouldn’t do.
Not content with a four-run lead, Lackey gave up another single that scored two and made things more interesting. Having sufficiently accomplished his task, Lackey gave way to James Pugliese, who immediately set about following his mentor’s example.
Single, home run, home run, single went the next four batters before the young righty got a strikeout to close the frame. The A’s had scored 8 runs on 6 hits to take a 10-7 lead.
Lackey: Let’s see you hyped-up prima donnas fix this.
War Bear [cracks knuckles, grumbles unintelligibly]: Hold my f—–‘ beer, bruh [translated].
Victor Caratini led off the bottom of the 4th with a double and, after a Carlos Penalver popout, Schwarber stepped in again. Boom, another home run to cut the deficit to one.
Penalver doubled the next time up to plate two runs and take the lead, 11-10, in the 5th. Caratini cleared the bases with another double in the 6th and Lackey’s work was for naught. The A’s would add one more, but the scalding bat of Ian Happ earned it back with a soft double to push it to the final score of 15-11.
Stats that matter
- Schwarber was 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs and 3 RBI
- Six Cubs had two hits (Schwarber, Bryant, Almora, Caratini, Penalver, and Taylor Davis)
- Lackey gave up 7 earned on 7 hits
- All Cubs pitchers not named Lackey or Pugliese allowed 1 run on 4 hits
The Cubs are going to be able to hang a lot of crooked numbers on people this year and they’re going to be a lot of fun to watch. Lackey may again be a Jekyll-and-Hyde pitcher who either misses bats entirely or gets squared up.
The Cubs head to Houston for a final two-game tuneup with the Astros. Brett Anderson will oppose Lance McCullers, first pitch is at 7:10pm CT and the game will be televised on WGN and MLB Network (MLB.com has the radio call).