The Cubs welcomed the Mariners to Sloan Park on Sunday as they looked to open March with a win after three straight losses. Jon Lester, who struggled in his first spring outing, had excellent stuff and a little more offensive firepower backing him up this time.
Lester threw three strong innings, allowing just two hits with no walks to keep the M’s off the board. Albert Almora Jr. continued his excellent spring with a solo homer in the 4th inning to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead and Javy Báez hit his own solo shot very deep to center in the 5th.
Why the Cubs Won
Lester kept the Mariners in check long enough for the Cubs’ bats to kick in and take the lead.
The Cubs left the bases loaded twice in the first three innings, but Almora finally broke the ice and continued a very strong spring at the plate.
Stats That Matter
- Lester’s control was much better on Sunday: 3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 4 K, 0 BB.
- Báez also singled and drew his fourth walk in just over a week in Arizona.
- Willson Contreras reached base twice and gunned down two would-be base-stealers.
- Promising pitcher Manuel Rodriguez was forced to leave the game with an apparent injury in the 6th.
Getting this version of Lester during the regular season would be a big help for the Cubs. Almora is at least giving David Ross something to think about, but take the big production with a decent sized grain of salt.
The Angels and their new manager, I think his name is Joe something, head to Sloan Park Monday for the first half of a split-squad day at 2:05pm CT. Kyle Hendricks makes his second appearance and ESPN has the television coverage. The second game bows at 8:05pm CT on MLB Network for out-of-market viewers only and there’s no Chicago radio, so you might want to fire up that free trial of MLB.tv.