Cubs bats go silent against Rockies
|Wednesday, March 15, 2023, 8:38 AM- -|
MESA - There haven't been too many cases this spring when you can say the Cubs offense seemed overmatched. Well, against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday, this was one of those times.
Coming off a scheduled off day on Monday, the Cubs bats came out cold as German Marquez was brilliant on the mound. The right-hander allowed just four hits in four innings, but managed to strike out seven. He walked none and allowed zero earned runs as the Rockies struck out 11 Cubs hitters in their 5-2 victory.
While Marquez was in mid-season form, lefty Justin Steele wasn't, as he opposed Marquez on the bump. Slowed by an early spring injury, Steele is still rounding into form as he struck out four in 2 2/3 innings. For the most part, Steele's command was good, but after allowing a pair of homers in the early going to give the Rockies a 3-0 lead, it was time for David Ross to go to the pen as his day was over.
The first of those homers came in Steele's second inning of work when Elehuris Montero connected for his third shot of the spring to put the Rockies in front for good, 1-0. Steele would allow a one-out single to Brian Serven later in the inning, but responded with a pair of strikeouts to end the frame. Not only were the Cubs trailing, but with Marquez mowing them down at the clip he was, you could sense it was going to be a long day for the Chicago offense.
Looking to build on their lead in the third, Ezequiel Tovar got things started as his one-out single put a runner on base. That was followed by the Rockies second homer of the day, with Ryan McMahon also going deep for his third homer of the spring to extend the lead to 3-0. That homer proved to be the game-winner. Following a walk to CJ Cron and another strikeout, Steele was lifted for Julian Merryweather, who tossed a scoreless 1 1/3 innings with a pair of punchouts.
With the Cubs pen hoping to keep things close, it was up to their offense to get things rolling, but all they could muster was another single in the fourth from Trey Mancini as they remained quiet. Hoping to finally get something going with Peter Lambert replacing Marquez in the fifth, the Cubs offense continued to scuffle as Lambert added four more strikeouts across his outing.
One of the better relief pitchers for the Cubs this spring has been free-agent righty, Tyler Duffey. Signed to a minor league deal, Duffey has been impressive and has put himself in a position to make this team. However, after allowing a single to Montero to lead off the sixth, followed by the Michael Toglia double, Duffey was on the ropes as the Rockies were in business again. Duffey managed to recover, but still allowed a sacrifice fly to Nolan Jones as the Rockies extended their lead to 4-0.
It took the Cubs six innings to finally crack the scoreboard, with Nico Hoerner unloading for his first homer of the spring to cut the lead to 4-1.
Nico Hoerner - Chicago Cubs (1)* pic.twitter.com/xTqeo6aWaf— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) March 15, 2023
Another pitcher that continues to impress is Adbert Alzolay, who finished up the sixth inning and then struck out the side in the seventh. No longer a starting pitcher, Alzolay will be a weapon out of the Cubs pen this season as he continues to show his potential.
Ryan Borucki followed that up with a scoreless eighth inning as he continued to battle for one of the final bullpen spots. Borucki struck out the side in his outing as the Cubs tallied 13 strikeouts in the game. While the offense was quiet through seven innings, it was in the eighth when they started to make some noise and knocked on the door for a big inning.
It all started with a one-out single by Christopher Morel off of Brent Suter as the Cubs finally had another baserunner. Facing a two-out situation, David Bote smoked a hard-hit ball to second, where Coco Montes committed an error to put a pair of runners on base. That was followed by a pair of walks from Dom Nunez and Mike Tauchman, with Tauchman earning the RBI to make things 4-2.
Needing a hit to tie the game, Jake Slaughter entered the game as a pinch hitter and flew out to Center field, ending the threat. Not only that, it was as close as the Cubs would get, with Jameson Hannah picking up an RBI double off Jeremiah Estrada in the ninth to extend the lead to 5-2 before Dinelson Lamet closed things out in the ninth for the win.
Chicago returns to the diamond Wednesday afternoon when they face off against the Reds for the second time this spring.