Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Intrasquad Day in Mesa

The Cubs minor league team knocked off the "big league" team 8-6 at HoHoKam Park on Wednesday afternoon, although both teams were filled with minor leaguers by the time the game concluded.

For the major league team, it was a final tune-up for the regular season, which starts at Wrigley Field on Friday. The cost of a ticket was $10 and all proceeds benefited Cubs charities. For all of the prospects that were invited to take part in the game, it was a chance to open the eyes of the Cubs coaching staff.

Randy Wells worked three innings in his tune-up for his first start of the season, which will come against the D'backs on Monday. Wells allowed one run to cross but looked sharp overall.

Marlon Byrd, who is day-to-day with some soreness, sat out for the third straight day. Geovany Soto and Aramis Ramirez also missed the intrasquad contest. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Pena received one at-bat each, serving as designated hitters.

Blake DeWitt got the start at third base, where he is expected to backup Ramirez this season. Jeff Baker started at first base, where he and Tyler Colvin will serve as backups to Pena. Baker delivered an RBI for the Cubs first run of the game, on a play where Steve Clevenger dropped the ball on what would have been a close play at the plate.

Second baseman Darwin Barney delivered a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning, which was the highlight of the game. Barney is expected to see regular playing time this season. All of the regulars on the Major League team left the game after the fourth inning, except for Koyie Hill.

Hill stayed in the game to catch the remaining big league pitchers that needed to work. John Grabow retired the side in order in the fourth, before James Russell put another zero on the board in the fifth. Marcos Mateo, who was surprised last week when he found out that he had made the Cubs bullpen, was a little wobbly in the sixth. He surrendered two runs on three hits in the frame. Hill, who slumped at the plate all spring, went 1-for-3 with a single and a strikeout against the farmhands. Hill was the final Cub to depart when Michael Brenly took his spot behind the plate in the seventh. Bob Brenly was in attendance to watch his son play.

Left hander J.R. Mathes got the nod for the minor league team, managed by Iowa skipper Bill Dancy. Mathes worked five inning, allowing five runs on ten hits. J.R., a longtime minor leaguer, will start the season at Triple-A Iowa. Trey McNutt, rated the top pitching prospect in the organization, was the only other hurler to work for the minor league team. He went four innings, surrendering only one run on three hits.

Justin Bour (grounder), Ryan Flaherty (single) and Marquez Smith (double) all drove in runs for the Major League team to extend the lead. The minors chipped away as Tony Campana scored on a double play bouncer and Sergio Durrell rapped a run scoring single in the sixth. Josh Vitters, who started at third base and then moved across the infield to first, cranked a triple to drive in a run in the eighth.

In the top of the ninth, Evan Crawford delivered an RBI triple to tie the game at six. Then Campana put the minor squad in front with a single and DJ LeMahieu tacked on an insurance tally with a double. Frank Batista was the pitcher who allow the minors team to grab the lead. He was charged with four runs in 0.2 innings. Mike Quade came to the mound to make a pitching change, bringing in RHP Justin Berg to notch the final out. McNutt sent the "big league" team down quickly in the bottom of the ninth to secure the victory.

The final totals-
Minor League Cubs: 8 runs, 16 hits, 3 error
Chicago Cubs: 6 runs, 13 hits, 2 errors
Winning Pitcher: Trey McNutt
Losing Pitcher: Frank Batista

After the game, Mike Quade's squad got on the bus to head to the airport, where they will fly to Chicago!

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