Cubs (SS) 8, Royals 3
By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
If it didnt matter much when the Royals were ransacking the Cactus League and, really, it didnt, then a second straight beating shouldnt generate too much concern.
Either way, the Royals absorbed a second straight blowout loss Saturday afternoon in falling 8-3 to a Chicago Cubs split-squad at HoHoKam Park in Mesa. That followed an 8-1 loss on Friday night to the Dodgers.
Bruce Chen surrendered three homers Saturday in a four-run first inning, and things never got much better. He allowed two more homers while throwing 92 pitches in his five innings.
In all, Chen gave up seven runs and nine hits.
You take that first inning away, he said, I pitched much better. But if you add the first inning, I pitched horribly. I know its stuff that pitchers say -- I felt good -- but I did.
I want to see how I bounce back after four or five days. But I felt today, stamina-wise, was good.
Maybe so, but Chen permitted five runs in 32/3 innings, including two more homers, in his previous outing against the Angels.
Were in competition for a spot, manager Ned Yost said. Were getting down to the time when were going to have to make a decision.
But for Bruce and Mendy (Luis Mendoza), theyve got track records that we can fall back on, which helps the process. It was just a bit of a rough day for Bruce today.
Mendoza will start Sundays game against the Chicago White Sox.
The loss dropped the Royals to 16-4-1 and trimmed their lead in the Cactus League to 21/2games over second-place Seattle.
Lefty Francisely Bueno provided one of the few positives by retiring three straight batters in the seventh inning. He allowed only one run in 71/3 innings over his last six appearances.
Hes gotten more consistent every time out, manager Ned Yost said. He keeps getting a little better and a little better. His stuff was good, but his command was off early in the spring.
Now, hes starting to dial his command in, which is natural in spring training for guys like him.
The Royals got their first run on a towering leadoff homer by third baseman Mike Moustakas in the fourth inning against Cubs starter Hisonori Takahashi. The ball soared high over the right-field wall.
A 3-2 heater, Moustakas said. Got a fastball and didnt miss it.
Outfielder David Lough continued his roster push by going two for three and raising his average to .559. He has a club-leading 19 hits in 34 at-bats.
Second baseman Johnny Giavotella committed a throwing error that led to an unearned run in the third inning. He also went one for three, which raised his average to .278 at 10 for 36.
Chris Getz went one for two with a stolen base after replacing Giavotella, which hiked his average to .303 at 10 for 33.
Right-hander Guillermo Moscoso accepted a waiver claim by the Toronto Blue Jays after being placed Wednesday by the Royals on unconditional release waivers.
Moscoso could have chosen to become a free agent by refusing the claim, but in doing so he would have forfeited the terms of his contract, which includes a salary of $504,250 if he spends the entire season in the majors.
Utilityman Xavier Nady remains limited by a sore foot (plantar fasciitis), which caused him to leave a March 13 game against Seattle after a tie-breaking RBI single.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar will be evaluated Sunday after undergoing a full workout Saturday to determine his recovery from back spasms. If all goes well, he should return Sunday or Monday night to the lineup.
The Royals hook up with division-rival Chicago on Sunday afternoon, and both teams are taking steps to avoid the other team getting a read on key members in their rotation.
James Shields and Chicago lefty Jose Quintana are each pitching Sunday in minor-league games. The pitching matchup instead will be Luis Mendoza and Zach Stewart.
Royals (RHP Luis Mendoza) vs. White Sox (RHP Zach Stewart), at 3:05 p.m. Central time in Surprise, Ariz.
I want to play, man. Im going crazy here.
| Shortstop Alcides Escobar, who hopes to be sufficiently recovered from back spasms to play Sunday against the White Sox.
COUNTDOWN TO OPENING DAY: 15 DAYS