Fly the T: Cubs blow huge lead against White Sox
Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports

Fly the T: Cubs blow huge lead against White Sox

by - Senior Writer -

MESA - Monday was very busy for the Chicago Cubs (16-12-2) as plenty of things were going on in camp. For starters, David Ross continued to piece together his opening-day roster and made some moves in the process. Some of those moves included Javier Assad making the big League as a reliever, while Mike Tauchman and Christopher Morel were optioned to AAA Iowa.

You also saw Zach McKinstry traded to the Tigers while Luis Torrens is fighting for what could be the final spot on the opening-day roster. Even with all that going on, there was still a baseball game to be played as the Chicago Cubs played host to the Chicago White Sox.

Although there are some spots still left to be accounted for on this roster, one thing we do know is the starting staff Ross will trot out there. Jameson Taillon is one of those guys, as he has been listed as the No. 3 starter this season. Taillon was impressive once again as he scattered just two hits in five shutout innings while picking up five strikeouts.

He left with a 6-0 lead, and things were heading in the right direction for the Cubs. That was until a ninth-inning rally off of Michael Fulmer that saw the White Sox score five times to pull even as this game ended in a 6-6 tie. Spring Training or not, ties are never fun, and when you tie your cross-town, it is like kissing your sister.

While Taillon was dialed in, his counterpart Michael Clevinger struggled, especially in the first inning. The right-hander lasted just 4 1/3 innings and allowed six earned runs in the process. Most of the damage was done in the first inning, but it was evident that he didn't have his best stuff.

With Taillon making quick work of the White Sox in the first to set the tone, the Cubs offense came out swinging as Nico Hoerner led things off with a single. Hoerner would eventually steal second ahead of the Dansby Swanson walk to set the Cubs offense up in a good spot. Ian Happ kept the line moving as his seeing-eye single gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

Cody Bellinger followed that up with a sharply hit single to right as he would advance to second on the throw to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead just two batters in. The Cubs kept the line moving, with Trey Mancini picking up a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 3-0 ahead of the RBI double from Eric Hosmer to give the Cubs a 4-0 lead in the first. Lane Ramsey took over for Clevinger to finish the inning and kept the Cubs offense in check.

The Cubs continued to go to work in the second inning as Swanson took Clevinger deep for his second shot in as many games to put the Cubs in front 5-0.

You had to like where the Cubs were sitting at this point, as Taillon continued to mow down the Sox and took things into the bottom of the fourth with the Cubs leading 5-0.

It was in the bottom of the fourth when the Cubs got to Clevinger again as Edwin Rios got things started with a one-out double. A Miles Mastrobuoni single followed that up to bring home another run as the Cubs were in complete command 6-0. Despite pitching exceptionally well, Taillon ran into some fifth-inning trouble allowing a leadoff single to Yasmani Grandal before hitting Hanser Alberto with a pitch to put two runners on and no outs. Taillon didn't let that bother him as he retired the next three hitters he faced to close out his outing with five scoreless frames.

With both Taillon and Clevinger out of the game, it would come down to the Cubs pen, which has been a strength this spring. First up for Chicago was Julian Merryweather, who struggled to get settled in. Not only did Adam Haseley lead off the sixth with a single, but that was followed by singles from Andrew Vaughn and Jake Marisnick, with Marisnick picking up the RBI single to put the White Sox on the board and make things 6-1.

That would be it for the White Sox in that inning, as Merryweather struck out the next two to help finish things off. Looking to add on in the sixth, both Fabian Pertuz and Jacob Wetzel led things off with a walk, but couldn't get the clutch hit they needed.

Adbert Alzolay and Michael Rucker took care of the next two innings to keep the Sox off the board. Rucker is another one of those guys battling for a bullpen role, but after his fantastic spring, he is almost a shoo-in to make the team. Looking to close things out in the ninth was Michael Fulmer, as he has had a dominating spring thus far.

Expected to be one of a handful of guys to be considered for the closer role, Fulmer was not at his best and was clearly affected by something on the mound. After allowing a leadoff single to Ryan Burrowes, Seby Zavala took a walk as the White Sox had two on and no outs.

Despite his struggles, Fulmer put himself in a great position to get out of the jam, as he retired the next two hitters. That was until Romy Gonzalez changed the game with one swing as his long three-run shot pulled the Sox within 6-4. That homer was followed by a Wes Kath single and the Logan Glass double as Fulmer's rough outing ended.

Put in a tough spot; Brad Deppermann needed to record just one out for the Cubs to come away with the win. Deppermann made the pitch he wanted against DJ Gladney, but the grounder found its way to center field to score a pair and capped off the miraculous comeback with the game tied 6-6. Looking to walk things off in the bottom half of the ninth, Liam Spence started things with a leadoff single, but that was it, as the Cubs couldn't break through late and settled for the tie.

The Cubs were outhit 10-7, but once again made things count when they did pick up the hits. Seven players collected hits for the Cubs as they continue to get plenty of balance in this lineup. The Cubs will wrap up Cactus League play tomorrow when they face the White Sox for the final time this spring. Michael Koepech is slated to get the ball for the South Side, with Drew Smyly in line for the Cubs.

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