It was a lot of fun seeing the "new" Cubs have at it at Scottsdale Stadium Thursday, as a split squad team--featuring Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Arismendy Alcantara--took the field against the defending champions.
It was Kyle Schwarber, the North Siders first pick in the 2014 draft, who made the mark, hitting a slam under unusual circumstances.
After home plate umpire Dale Scott was hit by a pitch during Norichika Aoki's first at-bat, he had to leave the game, so, to keep the flow, Jim Joyce called balls and strikes from behind Ryan Vogelsong while Mark Ripberger went below to don the mask and accoutrement of umpiring.
Soler smashed a single, as did Wellington Castillo, and following a walk to Kris Bryant, Schwarber celebrated his 22nd birthday by depositing a pitch over the right field wall.
After the game, Bruce Bochy tried to remain optimistic, noting it "was still early enough that we have a safety net," noting that Gregor Blanco, Justin Maxwell (who started, walked, and swiped a base) along with Juan Perez would pick up the slack. (Note that the Giants announced post-game that Pence suffered a non-displaced fracture, and will be out 6-8 weeks.)
San Francisco did turn their deficit into a win in a game that featured a lot of noteworthy items, including a massive homer by Giants outfielder Daniel Carbonell, as well as a line shot by Billy McKinney (reminded me a lot of a couple of AFL lasers hit here by Joe Panik) that just cleared the wall.
Hurler Chris Heston (#12 Giants pick in 2009) tossed two excellent innings, allowing just a hit while whiffing a pair. Heston turned in fine seasons at Richmond (9-8, 2.24) and then Fresno last year (12-9, 3.38) and could nab a spot in the SF pen.
Finally, Hunter Strickland threw hard, surrendered a homer (to McKinney), but won the game as the beneficiary of a five-run eighth inning rally that took away a little of the bitterness of losing Pence.