Cubs make history by tossing their first ever spring no-hitter
Mark Rebilas - USA Today Sports

Cubs make history by tossing their first ever spring no-hitter

by - Senior Writer -

Whether it is Spring Training or not, witnessing a no-hitter is always one of the most exciting things about baseball. Entering Friday night's contest with the San Diego Padres, there were 42 career-no hitters tossed in spring training, with the last one coming in 2017 by the Los Angeles Angels.

Ironically, neither the Cubs nor the Padres were included on that list as the Cubs had never tossed a no-hitter, and the Padres never were no hit. That all changed on Friday as Justin Steele and six other pitchers combined to no-hit the San Diego Padres as the Cubs picked up their third win in a row, 4-0.

For Steele, this had to be a surreal feeling as he had been sidelined with arm fatigue to begin the spring and was making his first start of the campaign. Going back to last June, Steele has been the best and most consistent pitcher in the Cubs rotation, and that continued with a pair of scoreless innings.

Steele had to be on top of his game early as the Cubs wasted first-inning singles by Dansby Swanson and Trey Mancini instead of striking early. The Cubs kept the pressure on Julio Tehran in the third when David Bote continued his hot spring with a leadoff triple, but was left stranded on the bases.

Following Steele's pair of innings, Javier Assad entered the game for his second spring appearance as he continues to battle for the no. 5 spot in the rotation. Assad was sharp in his two innings of work the first time out and kept the beat moving with two more innings of scoreless ball. Fortunately for him, the Cubs offense finally broke through against Nabil Crismatt in the fourth when Edwin Rios launched a two-out solo shot out to right to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

Little did they know that would be the only run they would need, as their pitching took care of the rest.

Across the final five innings, David Ross not only went to the bullpen, but went to the pen early and often as five other arms got in on the fun. Brad Boxberger was up first, tossing a scoreless fifth before the Cubs offense added a run in the sixth. Singles by Nick Madrigal and Mancini had runners on the corners with one out as Yan Gomes used a sacrifice fly to double the lead to 2-0.

That set things up for Adbert Alzolay to toss a scoreless sixth while the Padres returned to their pen and called on Brent Honeywell to do the job. Immediately upon entering, Honeywell ran into some seventh-inning trouble. A leadoff walk to Christopher Morel was followed up by a Bote single to put two runners on with no outs. Honeywell recovered nicely to strike out both Brennen Davis and Luis Torrens before getting out of the inning unharmed.

Viewed as a potential X-Factor piece in the Cubs pen this season, Jeremiah Estrada looked dominant at times in the seventh as he struck out a pair and walked one. Most importantly, he kept the line moving as the game shifted to the eighth inning with no hits allowed. Cam Sanders continued that trend in the bottom half of the eighth, showing impressive Velocity (98 MPH) and a nasty assortment of sliders to toss a scoreless inning of his own and put the Cubs within reach of their first-ever spring no-hitter.

Although the Padres still didn't have a hit, you got a sense that the Cubs wanted to add to their lead after wasting several chances earlier in the game. With Jared Young and Pete Crow-Armstrong starting the ninth with singles, not only did the Cubs have runners on the corners with no outs, but they were in another great position to do some damage.

Crow-Armstrong swiped second base for his third steal of the spring to take away the double play, which proved costly for the Padres. With Dom Nunez at the plate, former Cubs 1B Alfonso Rivas fielded what looked to be a routine ground and flipped it to Honeywell, trying to cover first base. Instead, the ball would hit Nunez in the face, knocking him down, and a pair of runs would score to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead. Nunez was ok on the play and had a good laugh about it before the Cubs ran out of gas.

Down to their final three outs standing between them and history, Ross called on Nick Burdi to finish the job in the ninth. Burdi got off to a great start and struck out the first hitter he faced before completely losing his command to walk both Rivas and Brandon Dixon. After a brief mound visit, Burdi recovered and got Tim Lopes to ground into a game-ending double play as the Cubs capped off their first-ever spring no-hitter 4-0.

Mancini and Bote have gotten off to great starts this spring, and both led the way again with two hits. Mancini is hitting .500 this spring, while Bote is sitting at .636. Five other players recorded hits in the win, with Rios, Gomes, and Nunez grabbing RBIs. As a staff, the Cubs combined to walk five Padres and strikeout seven, but didn't allow a hit. Estrada and Sanders led the way with two Ks. Chicago returns to the field Saturday when they face off against the Los Angeles Angels.

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