3/26 Reds 11, Cubs 1
Johnny Cueto topped Jeff Samardzija on the mound and at the plate in a showdown between two Opening Day starters on Tuesday. Todd Frazier hit a solo home run to back Cueto and and lift the Reds to an 11-1 victory over the Cubs. The game was the Cubs’ first night game at HoHoKam Stadium since March 28, 2005, and played in front of 9,388 fans. Samardzija, who will kick off the Cubs season Monday in Pittsburgh, gave up five hits over five innings, did not walk a batter, and struck out four.
“This is the last hurrah and it’s just basically getting his work in and working on what he feels he needs to work on going into Opening Day,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said before the game.
Cueto singled off Samardzija with two outs in the Reds’ third, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Emmanuel Burriss’ double. Samardzija and Cueto have squared off before.
“It was definitely a good atmosphere and I’ve pitched against Johnny since High A down in Sarasota and Daytona,” Samardzija said. “We know each other pretty well. He’s a heck of a pitcher and had a heck of a year last year.”
Hisanori Takahashi, bidding for the Cubs’ final bullpen spot, struck out the side in the sixth. But Frazier connected on the first pitch leading off the seventh for his fifth spring home run.
The Reds sent 13 batters to the plate in the ninth and scored nine runs, including six off Carlos Marmol, who failed to retire any of the six batters he faced.
* Up next: The Cubs will play their penultimate game in Arizona on Wednesday night when they travel to Surprise to face the Royals under the lights. Scott Feldman, who will open the Cubs’ series in Atlanta on April 5, will get the start. Among the players scheduled to make the trip are David DeJesus, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, and Darwin Barney. The game, which begins at 6:05 p.m. Arizona time, will be broadcast on WGN Radio.
– Carrie Muskat