Navarro Blast Propels Cubs to Victory over Giants
Dioner Navarro hammered a three-run home run to cap a four-run 1st inning, and Jeff Samardzija and six relievers combined to throw a six hitter, as the Cubs edged the San Francisco Giants 4-3 in the Cubs 2013 Cactus League home opener before a sparse crowd (7,784) this afternoon at cool & blustery Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.
The Cubs scored all four of their runs in the bottom of the 1st off Giants starter Matt Cain.
Starlin Castro ripped a single with one out, and was safe at second when SF 1B Brad Belt made an errant throw to 2nd base on what should have been the start of a 3-6-3 DP, with Anthony Rizzo reaching 1st base safely on the play. Alfonso Soriano then smoked a line-drive infield single off Matt Cain's left knee to load the bases (Cain remained in the game, although he was clearly limping), and the first run of the day scored on a Nate Schierholtz RBI ground out. Dioner Navarro followed with his three-run HR over the RF fence and into the Giants bullpen to finish the Cubs scoring for the day.
Jeff Samardzija got the start for the Cubs and had his sinker working very well today (4/0 GO/FO). He was sailing right along with two outs and nobody on base in the top of the 2nd when he surrendered a Francisco Peguero double and a Guillermo Quiroz RBI single. For the day, The Shark allowed just the one run on three hits, with two strikeouts and no walks over the 2.0 IP (33 pitches - 21 strikes).
Carlos Marmol worked the top of the 3rd (22 pitches - 12 strikes) and gave up a run, walking the lead-off hitter and then allowing a one-out RBI rocket double into the RF corner by Pablo Sandoval, before striking out Roger Kieschnick (Brooks' cousin) swinging to end the frame.
Cory Wade was next, and went two innings (26 pitches - 16 strikes), allowing one unearned run on one hit, no walks or strikeouts, and 1/4 GO/FO. The unearned scored as the result of an error by Cubs 1st baseman Anthony Rizzo, who dropped a low (but catchable) throw from Starlin Castro that allowed Brandon Crawford to reach base safely to lead-off the inning, and Crawford would eventually score on a sacrifice fly.
Casey Coleman, Kyuji Fujikawa, James Russell, and Shawn Camp threw a combined four innings (one inning a piece) of one hit shutout ball with five punch-outs (and no walks) as the Cubs held on for the victory. Fujikawa was especially sharp, showing some life on his fastball and a great splitter.
Cubs pitchers walked only one Giants batter all day, while strikng out eight.
The Cubs offense did not score after putting up the four spot in the 1st, but DH Brian Bogusevic (opposite-field line-drive double down the LF line) and Johermyn Chavez (line-drive double off the LF fence--or Cole Gillespie's face) collected extra base hits. Chavez's double was absolutely crushed, and probably never got higher than eight feet off the ground before reaching the fence.
The weather was not ideal (cold northwest wind), but stiill the sparse crowd was a bit of surprise, given that it was both the Cubs Cactus League home opener and a Sunday.