Takeaways from the Cubs’ 7th intrasquad scrimmage
It was all Cubs Tuesday night in the intrasquad scrimmage.
Well, the home Cubs, that is.
Kyle Hendricks looked in midseason form as he led the white team to a 4-0 victory in an 8-inning scrimmage that aired on Marquee Sports Network.
If this were the regular season, Hendricks could’ve been on his way to tossing a “Maddux” (a complete-game shutout in less than 100 pitches).
“The Professor” needed only 70 pitches to get 19 outs, permitting just 3 baserunners in 6.1 innings. Two of those runners reached on errors and he also allowed a single to Nico Hoerner.
Hendricks struck out 3 and at one point, retired 12 of his teammates in a row.
Behind him, the home Cubs were buoyed by a pair of big-time blasts by Willson Contreras and Javy Báez in addition to a Jason Kipnis RBI single in the 1st inning and a Josh Phegley RBI double in the 6th inning.
Yu Darvish started opposite Hendricks and walked Kris Bryant to begin the bottom of the 1st. Bryant advanced to second base on a wild pitch and a couple pitches later, Kipnis knocked him home.
Darvish also surrendered the home run to Contreras in the 4th inning, a solo shot to center field that marked the 3rd homer in these intrasquad games for the Cubs All-Star catcher.
Darvish finished with 2 earned runs allowed on 2 hits and 2 walks in 3.2 innings, striking out 3 and throwing 61 pitches while sitting at 95-96 mph with his velocity.
After hitting a tapper in front of home plate and back-to-back strikeouts in his first 3 times to the plate, Báez hit an absolute rocket off the nuveen sign in left field in the bottom of the 7th inning:
Here’s how both teams lined up Tuesday night:
1. Ian Happ – CF
2. Víctor Caratini – C
3. Kyle Schwarber – LF
4. Jason Heyward – RF
5. David Bote – 2B
6. Nico Hoerner – SS
7. Daniel Descalso – 3B
8. Hernán Pérez – 1B
9. P.J. Higgins – DH
1. Kris Bryant – 3B
2. Jason Kipnis – 2B
3. Javy Báez – SS
4. Willson Contreras – C
5. Steven Souza Jr. – RF
6. Albert Almora Jr. – CF
7. Josh Phegley – 1B
8. Ian Miller – LF
—The scrimmage featured real live umpires for the first 5 innings, so mental skills coach John Baker didn’t have to squat behind home plate and Cubs catchers only had to worry about calling pitches early on. On Sunday evening, the pitchers racked up 26 strikeouts in a 6.5-inning scrimmage with Contreras and Caratini responsible for calling balls and strikes.
—Anthony Rizzo is still dealing with lower back tightness. He missed a few days last week and as he started to feel better, took part in a live batting practice session Sunday afternoon. The back tightness returned after that workout and David Ross said the star first baseman is still day-to-day and may get some tests on that troublesome back issue.
—Souza missed all of last season with a knee injury and while he came into camp ready to get back on the field, he also said the 3-month shutdown was a “silver lining” for him in regards to gaining more strength in his legs. Apparently he’s feeling just fine as he bunted to lead off the bottom of the 6th and hustled down the line to force an errant throw from pitcher Jharel Cotton. Souza can play all three outfield positions and hit 30 home runs with 16 stolen bases in his last full season (2017).
—Almora leads all of Chicago’s North Side in stolen bases this summer. After swiping a bag Sunday night, he stole 2 more Tuesday night. Almora — who has 4 career stolen bases in 461 MLB games — is showing no ill effects from crashing into the wall in Friday night’s scrimmage.
—Ross continued testing out different strategies in the scrimmage setting. The other day, it was runners on second base to start innings and give the Cubs a taste of the new extra-inning rule. Tuesday, it was the hit-and-run. Almora swung at a high offering from Cotton in the 6th inning with Souza running from first base. Then in the 7th against Kimbrel, Hoerner was on the move and stole second as Descalso swung and missed.
—Craig Kimbrel worked a scoreless 7th inning, striking out a pair (Descalso, Pérez) and allowing a single to Hoerner.
—Kyle Ryan made his summer camp debut in the bottom of the 7th inning and gave up the homer to Baez. Ryan was delayed in getting to Wrigley Field due to a process-related issue, but arrived Saturday and has stayed on his throwing program even during the delay. He also got a trio of groundouts sandwiched around the Baez homer.
—Cotton threw 2.1 innings in relief of Darvish. He gave up 3 hits (including 2 to Phegley, his former teammate with the Oakland A’s) and struck out Báez on a 94 mph elevated fastball.
—In a wholesome moment, the Cubs played Harry Caray’s rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. And when the scrimmage ended, “Go Cubs Go” blared through the loudspeakers as twilight descended upon the Windy City.