Cubs defeat A's in Stroman's final tuneup before WBC
Matt Kartozian - USA Today Sports

Cubs defeat A's in Stroman's final tuneup before WBC

by - Senior Writer -

MESA - As Spring Training continues to roll on, teams are starting to get to their second round of starters making their turn through the rotation. That was no different for the Chicago Cubs as Marcus Stroman took the ball for the second time in what could be his final tuneup before the World Baseball Classic.

With the WBC beginning on March 8, most participating players will head to their respective sites on Monday or Tuesday. That means the pitchers participating are making their final start ahead of the WBC in what can be viewed as a tuneup game.

Stroman came out strong and looked like he was in mid-season form as the right-hander tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Stroman walked one and struck out four while allowing just two hits as the Cubs took down the A's 6-1 for their second straight victory. Stroman is entering his second season with the Cubs and will most likely enter the year as the opening-day starter. He showed plenty of poise today as he looked as dialed in as ever.

The Cubs offense has started showing signs of life in their past two games and backed Stroman with some immediate run support as they never looked back. Opposing the Cubs right-hander was lefty JP Sears, who is looking to earn a spot on the Oakland roster.

Sears had to battle through some trouble in the first inning, allowing a pair of one-out singles to Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger which helped set the Cubs offense up. Two batters later saw Nick Madrigal come through in the clutch as he ripped a hard-hit grounder passed third for the two-RBI double and gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

Playing with the lead, Stroman ran into a bit of trouble in the second with Shea Langeliers and JJ Bleday coming up with singles, but he was able to strand both runners to keep the Cubs in front. Moving to the third, the Cubs offense was off and running again, with Nico Hoerner starting things off with a leadoff double.

Happ kept the line moving with an RBI single to extend the lead to 3-0, but Bellinger's costly double play killed the rally and prevented a potential big inning from starting. Following the outing from Stroman and Bailey Horn, who finished off the second, was Michael Fulmer making his second spring appearance. The right-hander took care of business for another scoreless outing.

Replacing Sears on the mound in the fourth inning was Jake Fishman, and the Cubs greeted him rather rudely. Madrigal started the fourth inning with a single and then stole second base. After advancing to third, Madrigal came home to score on the Mike Tauchman single as the Cubs extended their lead to 4-0.

The Cubs continued their aggressive nature on the bases this spring, with Tauchman stealing second to put himself in scoring position and then coming home to score on the Zach McKinstry single to put the Cubs in front 5-0. The Cubs added their final run of the game in the bottom of the fifth when Pete Crow-Armstrong reached via a walk and then used his legs to make things happen to extend the lead to 6-0.

Across the final four innings, David Ross sent several intriguing pitchers to the mound as all four want to make the Big-League Roster. Anthony Kay started with a scoreless sixth despite allowing a double before handing things off to Tyler Duffey in the seventh. Duffey has been very impressive this spring, striking out the side in his first outing and then picking up two more strikeouts in a scoreless seventh. Duffey did allow a Max Muncy single and a hit-by-pitch, but his breaking ball was working in a big way.

Another free agent acquisition signed by the Cubs is hard-throwing Julian Merryweather as he took over in the eighth. Like most of the relievers the Cubs throughout there, Merryweather wasn't perfect, but he got through his outing without allowing a run, and that is all that matters.

Looking to add on in the eighth, the Cubs got off to a great start as Crow-Armstrong worked his second walk of the game. He would advance to second on a wild pitch, followed by a Matt Mervis strikeout and Chase Strumpf walk as the Cubs once again had a pair of runners on base. However, they could not capitalize, as Crow-Armstrong was thrown out trying to steal third with a Dom Nunez strikeout a few pitches later.

With just three outs standing in their way of a shutout win, Ryan Borucki took the ball in the ninth, looking to close things out. With only one lefty in the pen, Borucki is seen to be one of the options Ross is considering should the Cubs bring in an additional lefty for the season.

For the most part, Borucki was solid, picking up a pair of strikeouts, but he did allow some hard contact, including doubles to Cristian Pache and Muncy. The Muncy double-ended the Cubs shutout bid, but that was all Oakland would get as the Cubs took care of the A's 6-1.

Madrigal and Happ led the way for the Cubs offense as they combined for four of the team's eight hits and drove in three. Hoerner, Bellinger, Tauchman, and McKinstry added the remaining four hits, with Tauchman and McKinstry picking up RBIs. As a staff, the Cubs tallied 13 total strikeouts and four walks, with Stroman recording four strikeouts and Duffey and Borucki with two. The Cubs return to the diamond on Friday as they take on the San Diego Padres in a rare night game.

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