The Indians cruised to a 10-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, thanks to an afternoon full of extra-base hits and strong pitching performances. The Indians had 16 hits and three walks, including seven doubles and a triple, while the Cubs only pulled off 12 hits. Although Chicago did have four home runs, Tribe pitchers struck out seven and didn’t allow a single walk.
Second Inning: Getting the Early Lead
Scoring early and often was the key to Tuesday’s game, and it started in the second inning. Mike Aviles led off with a single and advanced to second on a fielding error by Arismendy Alcantara. Tyler Holt took advantage of that with a one-out RBI triple to right field, before scoring on a two-out single off the bat of Brett Hayes. The Tribe kept it going in the third inning as well, when Ryan Raburn reached on an error and Carlos Santana doubled to put runners at second and third. A pair of RBI singles by Aviles and Holt put the Tribe up 4-0, giving the Indians some room for error.
Fourth Inning: Trevor Bauer Meets His Match
Some things in life just aren’t fair, including being asked to pitch to a lineup that contains Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, and Kris Bryant. Bauer was called upon to meet that challenge in the fourth inning, but it proved to be too much for the right-hander. Soler led off with a solo blast, setting the stage for back-to-back-to-back homers from the trio of Cubs superstars. Bauer managed to work out of the inning after that, but not before the Indians’ lead had been cut to 4-3. Outside of that brief disaster, Bauer performed well, giving up just four other hits and striking out three without walking a single batter in his four innings of work.
Seventh Inning: Double Trouble for the Cubs
Welington Castillo had homered for the Cubs to tie the game in the sixth inning, but the Indians took the lead right back with a double from Holt, followed by an RBI single from Michael Bourn. Then, the Cubs sealed their fate by allowing even more extra-base hits when the Tribe came to bat in the seventh inning. Audy Ciriaco reached on a fielding error, and Francisco Lindor doubled to right field. Ryan Rohlinger added a run with a sacrifice fly, before Destin Hood sent Lindor home on a ground-rule double. After the Cubs swapped pitcher Joe Ortiz for Corey Black, the struggles continued for Chicago. Roberto Perez and James Ramsey tacked on a pair of RBI doubles of their own to make it 9-4 before Black was able to escape the inning.
In the eighth inning, Lindor added yet another run-scoring double, putting the game out of reach for the Cubs. Chicago made a valiant effort with two outs in the ninth, when Gleyber Torres hit a ground-rule double. Kyle Schwarber brought him home with an RBI single, and Matt Szczur made it 10-6 with a ground-rule double of his own. Pitcher Austin Adams finally ended the game with a ground out, giving the Tribe their third win of the spring.
Forget that Bauer gave up a trio of home runs to three of the best prospects in baseball. He didn’t walk a batter, and he didn’t allow much traffic on the bases. His control was excellent, and his outing is something to get excited about regardless of the box score. Shaun Marcum went two innings, giving up just one home run and one hit, while Scott Atchison and Jeff Manship shut down the side in their outings. On the offensive side, Bourn was 3-for-3 with a walk. If Bourn can be the hitter the Indians expected him to be when he signed with the team, it will be an incredible boost.
There weren’t many negatives to Tuesday’s game, excluding the home runs. Adams didn’t look great in the ninth, considering he struck out the first two batters before allowing two runs on three hits. Jason Kipnis went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, and Jose Ramirez and Raburn were also hitless.
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Reading Too Much Into It
Could Marcum potentially earn a rotation role? The 33-year-old didn’t pitch at all last season, but he used to be a reliable starter before his injury. His career ERA is 3.88, but in 2013, he had a 3.64 FIP in 78.1 innings. While using Tuesday’s outing as a basis for judging what kind of pitcher he’ll be this year is certainly a bad idea, perhaps Marcum is someone to keep an eye on as Spring Training progresses.
Check It Out
– The Indians lost starter Gavin Floyd “indefinitely” with a re-injury of the elbow stress fracture that ended his season last year, per MLB.com. The exact timeline for his recovery isn’t known, but the loss does open up another spot in the rotation. Combined with the news that Josh Tomlin is fighting shoulder soreness, the Indians are proving the mantra that teams can never have too many starting pitchers.
– On Wednesday, Brandon Moss will face his former teammates as the Indians take on the Oakland Athletics at Hohokam Park. Tribe rotation candidate Danny Salazar will face off against A’s rotation candidate Kendall Graveman. Salazar is appearing for the second time this spring, after giving up two runs in two innings of work his last time out. His chances at making the rotation have improved greatly with the injury of Floyd, but he still faces some tough competition.