March 24, 2014
Padres 7 – Cubs 1
The Cubs got off to a good start when Emilio Bonifcacio led off the Cubs’ half of the first inning with a triple down the right field line. Bonifcacio, who can fly, scored from third when Donnie Murphy hit a routine ground ball to third. Padres’ third baseman, Chase Headley, checked Bonifcacio before throwing to first. As soon as Headley threw the ball though, Bonifcacio raced for home and beat the ensuing throw from first baseman Tommy Medica. As a result, the Cubs took a 1-0 lead.
The Padres tied the game at one a piece in the top of the second before Cubs’ pitcher Carlos Villanueva retired eight in a row. Unfortunately, Villanueva walked a batter with two outs in the fourth inning and paid the price when Medica slammed a two-run home run to put the Padres up 3-1. The lead stood for the rest of the game.
Cub closer Jose Veras continued his spring training struggles when he gave up three runs in the fifth inning and effectively put the game out of reach. Hopefully, Veras will look sharper when he closes out games for the Cubs this season. Tonight, however, he looked more Marmolesque when the first six hitters he faced resulted in a walk, a hit batter, three hits, and a strike out. After finishing the top of the fifth inning, the Cubs were down 5-1.
One bright spot for the Cubs occurred in the ninth inning when prospect Neil Ramirez (part of the Matt Garza haul from the Texas Rangers) struck out the side after another prospect, Jeimer Candelario, recorded a two-base throwing error to start the inning. It was refreshing to see the composure that Ramirez showed during that situation.
Despite the lopsided loss, Anthony Rizzo and Welington Castillo both looked good at the plate tonight. The new Cubs Park looked beautiful for its first ever night game and the crowd of over 15,126 fans took things in stride. It’s too bad the only firepower the Cubs exhibited consisted of the fireworks show that followed the game. Before they open the regular season in Pittsburgh one week from today, the Cubs play two split-squad affairs tomorrow and then four more full-squad spring training games.