Mesa, Ariz. — The Cubs scored two early, the Rockies scored two late, and the teams settled for a 2-2 tie in the Cactus League matchup of two of last year’s playoff games Thursday at Sloan Park in Mesa.
Rockies outfielder Sam Hilliard’s two-run homer off Daniel Camarena in the eighth tied it, and the teams eventually decided against playing extra innings.
The Cubs are now 4-1-2.
Mills fills in impressively
With Yu Darvish scratched from Thursday’s scheduled Cubs debut, Mills got the last-minute call to start and pitched two, quick, scoreless innings.
He struck out two in a 1-2-3 first inning, then added a third strikeout to end the second, pitching around a one-out walk in the inning.
Mills was acquired from Kansas City in a minor-league trade after the 2016 season and is expected to open at AAA Iowa as depth.
Outfielder Ian Happ, homered for the third consecutive start, following a four-pitch leadoff walk to Mike Freeman by pulling the next pitch over the left-field wall off left-hander Sam Howard.
The switch-hitter batting leadoff in his starts as an audition for a part in manager Joe Maddon’s leadoff rotation, is 5-for-10 with three homers and a double in four games.
Setup reliever Pedro Strop has been slowed this spring by a sore left calf that has pushed back his first spring appearance.
Strop has continued to play catch. “But we don’t want to push him on the mound yet,” Maddon said. “It’s nothing horrible.” It’s not expected to delay his start to the season at this point.
Third baseman Kris Bryant, sidelined all week by the flu, participated in a full schedule of practice before Thursday’s game, and if he fares well overnight could return to the lineup as soon as Friday, Maddon said.
“He had a little better look about him,” The manager said. “He looks like he’s starting to eat again so he’s going to be fine. He was actually comedic out there so that’s good.”
Shae Simmons, the intriguing late addition to camp who has battled injuries much of his career, rebounded from a rough spring debut Sunday against the Giants with 1-2-3 fifth inning he finished with back-to-back strikeouts.
On deck: Cubs at Angels, Tempe, Ariz., Jose Quintana vs. Garrett Richards, 2:10 p.m. Friday, cubs.com audio.
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