Who saw that headline coming a month ago?
Blake DeWitt, who was on the bench for 30 of the Cubs’ previous 31 games this year, homered and scored the winning run.
Carlos Pena, who was hitting .159 and slugging .175 at the end of April, hit a game-tying homer in the ninth.
Kosuke Fukudome, who entered the day in a 2-for-25 slump and had just two RBI in 71 at-bats for the season, delivered the game-winning hit.
And the Cubs did it against the Reds, who have become famous for their late-game heroics, as Francisco Cordero blew a save for the first time this year.
The Cubs ended up winning 3-2 after Pena’s leadoff homer off Cordero and Fukudome’s RBI single. They caught a terrible break with two outs in the ninth, when Jeff Baker’s fly to deep right center took a big bounce off the warning track and jumped into the stands, preventing DeWitt from scoring from first. Fukudome, though, followed that with a liner up the middle, finishing the game.
The most positive development for the Cubs has to be Pena’s power surge. He has three homers in four games after going a month without one.
Because Pena and Fukudome are now playing well enough to hold down regular jobs, the Cubs need to seriously consider demoting Tyler Colvin to Triple-A. Last year’s rookie surprise is batting just .121 after going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts today. The Cubs would be better off getting him regular at-bats in the minors and giving him his playing time to Reed Johnson.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.