Cubs drop a pair of split-squad games
Jayne Kamin Oncea - USA Today Sports

Cubs drop a pair of split-squad games

by - Senior Writer -

Monday was an extremely busy day on the diamond for the Cubs as they had not one, but two spring training games. It was the classic split-squad day, as the Cubs played two games simultaneously. That is one of the best parts about spring training, as it gives fans an opportunity to see a lot more players all at once.

Arizona 3 - Cubs 0

We will start with Arizona, where the Cubs and Diamondbacks were deadlocked 0-0 until the bottom of the ninth inning when Emmanuel Rivera took Jordan Holloway deep for the walk-off three-run shot. That shouldn't be a surprise when your offense is held to just two hits, with David Bote and Andy Weber picking up the hits.

That was the negative, but when it comes to the positives, look no further than the pitching, as the Cubs future was on display. That started with Caleb Kilian getting the start as he is looking to rebound from a rough season last year. After pitching through a knee injury last season, Kilian is healthy again and could be on the verge of a breakout season. The right-hander tossed two perfect innings and picked up two punchouts.

He gave way to Anthony Kay and a flurry of relievers, including fellow Top 25 prospect Ryan Jensen. Another player looking at a bounce-back season, Jensen, touched 98 MPH on the gun today and struck out three batters in his two innings. Jensen did walk two and allowed two hits, but most importantly, he came away with no runs allowed.

Other prospects that saw game action today were Jeremiah Estrada, Cam Sanders, Holloway, and Samuel Reyes. Apart from Holloway and Reyes, who served up the runs in the ninth inning, the rest of the pitching was sound and did their part to keep things close. The Cubs offense also only took two walks with their two hits, as their offense was lifeless in the defeat.

Cleveland 12 - Cubs 4:

While the Cubs offense was nowhere to be found in Scottsdale, the pitching struggled in Mesa as the Cubs took one on the chin 12-4. Jameson Taillon made his first spring start as a Cub and pitched well for the most part. Taillon allowed a pair of runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings while also striking out two in the process.

Both of his runs allowed came on a second-inning homer by Roman Quinn, who connected for two homers and five RBIs on the afternoon. Opposing Taillon was Shane Bieber, as the Guardians right-hander looked in mid-season form. Although he walked one and struck out one in two innings, Bieber threw less than 30 pitches as he worked quickly and effectively against the Cubs.

Part of spring training is looking at everyone on your roster, including prospects. Following the start from Taillon, Brad Boxberger made his spring debut and pitched very well. It was in the bottom of the third when the Cubs did most of their damage as Eli Morgan was called on to pitch.

Mike Tauchman opened the inning with a leadoff double and came home to score on an RBI double by Yonathan Perlaza shortly after. Miles Mastrobuoni kept the line moving with a single, but it was the Ian Happ double that put the Cubs in front 3-2 and still no outs. After Trey Mancini singled to put runners on the corners, the Cubs offense fizzled out, and nothing more came from what could have been an enormous inning.

Not only did Boxberger make his spring debut, but so did Michael Fulmer and Rowan Wick. Fulmer was as good as advertised, walking a hitter in his inning of work, but the struggles of Wick continued, and that has to be a concern. Not only did he allow a leadoff walk to Angel Martinez, but two batters later saw the Guardians tie things up with Gabriel Arias picking up an RBI single.

Things went from bad to worse for Wick as he walked the next two hitters he faced to load the bases with just one out. That was when Cleveland busted the game wide open as a costly error led to another run-scoring before a sacrifice fly off the bat of Tyler Freeman proved to be the winning run. Quinn delivered the big blow later in that inning, taking Peyton Remy deep for his second homer of the game to extend the Guardians lead to 8-3.

Over the next several innings, the Cubs did their best to battle back and had countless opportunities to score. Much like the 2022 season, they could not cash in with a big hit, while the Guardians picked up where they left off in the sixth. An RBI triple from Micah Pries off Adbert Alozaly made things 9-3 before Pries came home to score on a sacrifice fly.

Two more runs off Julian Merryweather in the seventh had the Guardians rolling as they opened up a 12-3 lead. While that may have been the final run of the day for Cleveland, the Cubs had a long way to go if they wanted to make a comeback.

That is why you take things one inning at a time, and Darius Hill lead off the bottom of the seventh with a single. Hill would move to second on a balk and then came home on the Bryce Ball RBI single to make things 12-4. Unfortunately, that would be the last of the runs for the Cubs as they fell to the Guardians and were swept in their split-squad games. The Cubs return to the diamond tomorrow as they face off against the Milwaukee Brewers.

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