Cubs buried early in 12-6 spring-training loss to Rockies
Jon Lester struggled with command as he worked on his fastball in his first start of the spring; Ian Happ’s three-run double was the Cubs’ big blow of the game.
ROCKIES 12, CUBS 6
The Cubs (2-2) have scored 22 runs in their last two games but have been outscored 24-22 in those games and managed only a split (they beat the Mariners 16-12 on Monday). The Rockies opened a 10-0 lead early in this one.
Veteran second baseman Jason Kipnis, a two-time All-Star in camp on a minor-league deal, ranged to his left to make a nice play for the first out of the game and drove in the Cubs’ first run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. He remains the favorite in a crowded field of contenders at second.
Right-hander Duane Underwood Jr., a second-round draft pick in 2012, might be facing a opening-roster-or-bust scenario this spring because he’s out of minor-league options. That made the third inning, in which he gave up four singles, a walk and a wild pitch before getting a second out, especially tough. After a scoreless inning in the Cubs’ spring opener Saturday, Underwood faced eight batters and gave up three earned runs in one inning.
In his first start of the spring, five-time All-Star Jon Lester’s command was off as he worked on his fastball until hitting his pitch limit nine batters into his start.
‘‘Nothing is effective without fastball command, and I obviously didn’t have that,’’ said Lester, who nonetheless said he thought he threw some good pitches and felt strong. ‘‘I feel like I’m in a better place right now physically than I have been in at least a year.’’
Many Happ returns
Ian Happ, the Cubs’ leadoff hitter and center fielder for the day, delivered half the Cubs’ run production on one hit – a bases-clearing double to right-center batting right-handed. He’s 2-for-6 without a strikeout in his first two games of the spring.
Royals at Cubs, Mesa, 2:05 p.m. Wednesday, MSN, Brady Singer vs. Kyle Hendricks.