Wesneski impressive in Cubs win over Mariners
Matt Kartozian - USA Today Sports

Wesneski impressive in Cubs win over Mariners

by - Senior Writer -

MESA - Although the weather has been unseasonably cool at Sloan Park this spring, things are heating up as the World Baseball Classic approaches. That means a lot of roster shuffling will occur in the coming weeks as players report to their respective camps.

Getting back to the Cubs, David Ross and his group came into Wednesday's game against Seattle riding a four-game losing streak and desperately needed a spark. That spark came from top 10 prospect Hayden Wesneski as the right-hander showed up and helped set the tone in the Cubs 5-3 victory.

Listed as one of three starters battling it out for the final spot in the rotation, Wesneski made quite an impression as he struck out four across two innings of work. He allowed a double and walked on via a pitch clock violation, but his overall work was impressive.

Wesneski needed to be impressive as he faced off against the 2021 AL Cy Young winner and ace of the Seattle staff, Robbie Ray. Making his second start of the spring, Ray went three innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five. At one point in the game, Ray struck out four-straight hitters as he appeared to be in midseason form.

After Wesneski went his two innings, Ross turned to the pen where Roenis Elias was next in the game as he is looking to earn a spot in the pen. Elias came out strong over his first two innings before unraveling a bit in the fifth, but still went 2 2/3 and allowed two runs.

With the score tied 0-0 in the fourth, Matt Brash entered the game in place of Ray, and the Cubs benefitted from that move. In fact, all five of the Cubs runs came in the fourth inning, as their offense was locked in from the start. Ian Happ led things off with a single before stealing second and then advanced to third on Cody Bellinger's second hit of the game.

A walk by Trey Mancini loaded the bases with no outs, but an Edwin Rios strikeout had the Marniners a double play away from escaping the jam. However, Yan Gomes had other plans as he lined a double to left field to put the Cubs in front for good and brought home the game's first two runs.

Another walk to Nelson Velazquez kept the line moving ahead of the Christopher Morel single that extended the lead 3-0. The Cubs would bring home another run on a Nico Hoerner fielders choice while a bases-loaded hit by a pitch to Happ put the Cubs in front 5-0.

On the verge of tossing three scoreless innings, Elias fell into the wrath of Julio Rodriguez as the 2022 AL rookie of the year ended the shutout bid with a solo homer. One pitch later saw Jarred Kelenic unload for his third spring homer as Seattle pulled within 5-2.

Seattle continued to keep the pressure on as Eugenio Suarez followed that homer up with a double off of Michael McAvene before the AJ Pollack single put runners on the corners. McAvene would keep things where they were as he struck out Evan White to end the threat.

The next several innings saw the Cubs go through Vinny Nittoli, Michael Rucker, and Brendon Little as their pitching continued to set the tone. Chicago had a chance to add to their lead in the sixth when David Bote picked up a two-out single ahead of a Zach McKinstry walk, only to be left stranded on the bases. Bote has gotten off to a great start this spring and has a hit in every game he has played.

Down to their final six outs, the Mariners knew they needed some late-game offense and got off to a good start, with Cooper Hummel leading the inning off with a single. A one-out single from Kean Wong put a pair of runners on for Seattle before the Harry Ford double pulled the Mariners within 5-3. That would be as close as the Mariners would get as Little struck out the final two hitters in the eighth before Manny Rodriguez worked out of trouble in the ninth to slam the door shut.

On a side note, former Chicago Cubs prospect Chris Clarke whom the Mariners acquired in the Rule 5 draft, pitched the eighth inning and allowed a two-out double to Yonathan Perlaza before ending the threat. The Cubs pitching set the tone as they combined to walk two and strike out 15. Wesneski and Elias had four punchouts, with Little adding two. Everyone else had one strikeout in their outing.

Offensively the Cubs were led by Bellinger and his two hits as they made the most of their seven hits. Bote, Happ, Gomes, Morel, and Perlaza added hits for Chicago, with Gomes leading the way with two RBIs.

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