The Cubs hosted the Giants Thursday afternoon at Sloan Park with Kyle Hendricks facing off against ex-Cub Jeff Samardzija. Both offenses started off quickly, starting with Brandon Belt launching a two-run home run in the top of the 1st inning. Albert Almora Jr. immediately responded with a leadoff blast in the bottom half of the inning.
The offenses stayed hot for both teams and it wasn’t long before Victor Caratini tied things up with another solo shot in the 4th inning. Hendricks got knocked around throughout the afternoon, giving up seven hits and three runs.
The Cubs had mixed results as they turned it over to the bullpen. Brian Duensing continued to struggle when he came in to clean up the 6th inning after Hendricks exited, giving up two runs without getting an out in the 7th. Brad Brach and Allen Webster kept the game in check with two perfect innings.
The Cubs kept it close thanks to a throwing error that brought them within one run in the 7th inning. That set up a dramatic bottom of the 9th, where outfield prospect Kevonte Mitchell hit a pinch-hit home run to tie the game. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Tied
Both teams brought their bats to combine for 20 hits. The Cubs clawed back from a three-run deficit to tie the game late.
The Cubs looked to be down and out before Mitchell tied the game with a home run to left-center field in his first Cactus League plate appearance.
Stats That Matter
- Almora continued his strong spring with a leadoff homer, his third of the spring. Known for his outstanding glove in center, his success at the top of the lineup could ignite the offense that lacked consistency from the leadoff man in 2018.
- Duensing saw his ERA rise to 10.29. At this point, he is doing very little to justify a roster spot when the season begins and seems like a prime candidate to be released over the next week.
- Caratini hit his second home run of the spring and continues his strong offensive showing. The Cubs are hopeful that he can carry that into the regular season, so Willson Contreras can stay fresh throughout the season.
Both offenses looked strong throughout the whole game and the Cubs were able to manufacture enough runs late to tie it. After back-to-back ties, we will all be looking forward to extra innings when real baseball begins in just seven days.
The Cubs play a split-squad doubleheader tomorrow. They begin the afternoon by hosting the Rangers at Sloan Park with Jose Quintana taking the mound. That game will be televised on WGN at 3:05pm CT. For the nightcap, the Cubs will travel to face the Indians with Duane Underwood as the starter. Follow along with that game by listening to 670 The Score.