Sampson continues to struggle as Brewers top Cubs
Allan Henry - USA Today Sports

Sampson continues to struggle as Brewers top Cubs

by - Senior Writer -

MESA - We are getting to the point in spring training when the managers start to map out their opening-day rosters. When it comes to David Ross and his group, the Cubs have plenty of options for their opening-day roster, but most of those spots are accounted for.

One of the spots still up for grabs is the No. 5 spot in the rotation which may be up for grabs for a while longer. With Hayden Wesneski dealing another great outing on Saturday, followed by another rough showing by Adrian Sampson on Sunday, the Cubs will be faced with the tough decision of what to do with Sampson.

Entering spring as the favorite to land the final spot in the rotation, Sampson is out of options meaning the Cubs have to sign him or risk losing him on the open market. However, after another rough start that saw Sampson bitten by the long ball again, it may be time for the Cubs to make a decision on him sooner rather than later, as the Milwaukee Brewers took down the Cubs for the second time this spring 5-3.

Sampson was better than he has been, allowing three runs on six hits in four innings, but his ERA is still above 14 for the Spring. Sampson struck out three and walked none, but the long ball continues to be an issue for him. Take his start out of the equation, and the Cubs pitching was solid, with Keegan Thompson, Michael Fulmer, Rowan Wick, and Manny Rodriguez all tossing scoreless outings.

Opposing Sampson was Jason Junk, as the Brewers starter tossed three scoreless frames and was given plenty of early run support in the winning effort. After a scoreless first from both sides, the long ball continued to bite Sampson, with Luke Voit leading off the second inning with a solo shot to put the Brewers in front 1-0. Brice Turang followed that up with a solo shot of his own as the Brewers doubled their lead to 2-0.

One-out singles from Skye Bolt and Blake Perkins kept the pressure on Sampson as a botched double steal later in the inning resulted in the game's third run before the inning came to a close. Sampson continued to struggle in the third, allowing one-out singles to William Contreras and Brian Anderson before getting out of the jam unharmed.

While the Brewers offense got off to a blazing start, the Cubs offense was held in check most of the day, with Patrick Wisdom and Nick Madrigal providing the only hits through the first five innings. It is tough to win a game when you can't put guys on base, and the Cubs were having difficulty doing that most of the day.

With Thompson battling through his inning of work and Fulmer continuing his amazing Spring with a scoreless inning, the Cubs remained in striking distance as long as their offense could find a way to get things started. It took six innings for that to happen, as Nico Hoerner led off the sixth with a single. Hoerner would come home to score a few pitches later when Ian Happ took Gus Varland deep for his first homer to pull the Cubs within 3-2.

Unfortunately, that would be as close as the Cubs would get as the Brewers added to their lead in the eighth. For the most part, Brandon Hughes has pitched well this Spring, but Sunday was not one of those days. After allowing a one-out double to Brian Navarreto, Eric Brown Jr followed it up with a single to put a pair of runners on base with one down.

Brown would go on to steal second base and then advance to third on a passed ball by Hughes to give the Brewers a 4-2 lead. Milwaukee capped off their scoring on a sacrifice fly from Cam Devanney to push their lead back to three and took a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth.

Much like some of the early innings of the game, Rodriguez did struggle to get through his inning of work, but most importantly got out of the ninth without allowing a run as the Cubs came to bat one last time. With three outs to work with and trailing by three, Luis Torrens worked a one-out walk to reach base before advancing to third on the Cole Roederer double.

Nelson Maldonado managed to get one of those runners home with an RBI groundout, but the Cubs could scratch across anymore and fell to the Brewers 5-3. The Cubs mustered just five hits in the game, with two coming as extra-base hits. Chicago is now 10-6 on the Spring and will be off tomorrow.

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