Wesneski impressive as Cubs win sixth straight
Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports

Wesneski impressive as Cubs win sixth straight

by - Senior Writer -

If only you could bank the wins you get and spring training and put them toward the regular season, then the Cubs would be in a great position as they are now 7-4. That includes their current six-game winning streak, which was extended Monday.

Locked in a 3-2 game entering the late innings, the Cubs used some late-game offense to pull away while their pitching took care of the rest in the 6-2 win. Looking to strengthen his case for the final spot in the rotation was Hayden Wesneski, as he made his second start of the spring. Ironically, both starts have come against the Mariners, as he went two scoreless frames last time out.

If we are basing the starter competition on the results this spring, Wesneski would have the final spot in the rotation locked down. This shouldn't come as a surprise when you look at how he pitched last season, and so far, that has continued. Through 2 2/3 innings, Wesneski was strong again, allowing one walk, two hits, and three strikeouts. He did allow his first run of the spring, but that makes seven punchouts in two outings against an outstanding Seattle team.

What stands out the most about his two starts is that he went toe-toe with Robbie Ray the first time out and had to contend with Luis Castillo this time. Both men are at the front of the Seattle rotation and have CY Young potential. Wesneski wasn't as sharp this time as last time, but he didn't need to be, as the Cubs gave him some early run support and never looked back.

Despite Castillo striking out the side first, the Cubs also had plenty of hard contact against him, starting with a leadoff single from Nico Hoerner. Sandwiched between a pair of strikeouts was the Eric Hosmer double to give the Cubs the lead for good, 1-0, before he came home on another well-struck single from Christopher Morel.

That would be all the offense the Cubs would get off of Castillo, but with Wesneski on the hill, that was enough. Despite running into trouble in the second, Wesneski managed to get out of the inning unharmed, which will be crucial for his success this season. He wasn't so lucky in the third as Ty France picked up his second hit in as many at-bats and then trotted home on the opposite field RBI double from Cal Raleigh to make things 2-1.

At this point, David Ross felt Wesneski did enough and removed him from the game in favor of Ryan Borucki and the rest of the Cubs pen. Like Wesneski, Borucki ran into some trouble in the fourth, but made the pitches he needed to get out of the jam before giving the ball to Brad Boxberger in the fifth.

With the score still sitting at 2-1 in the seventh, the Cubs finally broke through against the Seattle pen as Justin Topa was the victim. Brennen Davis got things started with a gift double as his ball was lost in the sun for a ground rule double. Two batters later saw Edwin Rios lace one into the left-center field gap as he legged out an RBI triple to extend the lead to 3-1. Rios would be stranded at third, but seeing him pick up another RBI was nice.

This spring, one of the more intriguing battles is who will take the final two bullpen spots this season. Tyler Duffey is making a strong case to be one of those guys after his impressive showing thus far. Signed to a minor league deal this offseason, Duffey has been nothing short of outstanding, but did serve up a leadoff homer to Cade Marlowe to begin the seventh to pull Seattle within 3-2.

Duffey followed that up with a walk to Kade Polcovich, but then settled in to retire the next three hitters and got out of the inning. The momentum completely shifted in the bottom of the eighth inning when Ben Brown took the mound. With one down, Kean Wong put himself in scoring position as his double brought the go-ahead run to the plate.

That was followed by the Zach DeLoach single to center, but Bradlee Beesley was coming up huge as he gunned down Wong at the plate to keep the Cubs in front 3-2. That proved to be crucial as Brown escaped the eighth with no damage applied. That play at the plate was the motivation the Cubs needed as Kevin Alcantara started things off in the ninth with a leadoff double.

A Yohendrick Pinango walk followed that up, but the Beesley double busted the game open as the Cubs took a 4-2 lead. A few pitches later saw Pinango score on a wild pitch as the lead suddenly grew to 5-2. The Cubs continued to keep the pressure on, with Jake Slaughter adding an RBI groundout to the mix as the Cubs went to the bottom of the ninth leading 6-2.

Brown took care of the rest as he finished his outing with two scoreless frames of two-hit three strikeout ball for another Cubs win. With 11 hits in the game, the Cubs offense continues to play well as Mancini led the way with two. Now hitting .563 this spring, Mancini is showing he is more than ready for the season.

The Cubs are back in action tomorrow when they hit the road again to take on the Texas Rangers. Adrian Sampson will make his second start of the spring as he will look to improve upon a rough first outing.

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