Aybar plates run in Angels' spring-opening loss
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Cubs put up five runs in the top of the third inning Saturday, riding that to an 11-2 victory over the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium in both club's Cactus League openers and the first of three spring meetings between the two.
Travis Wood, the 26-year-old left-hander who's vying for a spot in the Cubs' rotation, gave up a first-inning RBI double to Erick Aybar, who later scored on a fielder's choice, and retired the Angels in order in the second. Jerome Williams, expected to be the Angels' long reliever, gave up a solo homer and a triple in his two innings of work, striking out one and walking one.
Unlike last spring, when he was fighting for the No. 5 starter spot, Williams seemingly has a spot on the Major League club heading into 2013. But he isn't taking anything for granted.
"For me, every time I come here, it's going to be trying to fight for a spot," Williams said. "I'm going to take that mentality every time I go out there, every year. It's not a guarantee until I get there on Opening Day. Until that happens, I'm going to keep on fighting."
The Cubs got on the board in the second, thanks to a solo homer by Luis Valbuena, and opened it up in the third.
Facing young lefty Nick Maronde, an outside candidate for a spot in the Angels' bullpen, second baseman Logan Watkins led off with a triple on a ball that bounced off Peter Bourjos' glove in right-center field. Scott Hairston then hit a two-out RBI single and Valbuena walked, ending Maronde's day.
Then, against Minor Leaguer Caleb Graham, catcher Welington Castillo hit an RBI single, outfielder Brett Jackson followed up with a two-run triple and shortstop Brent Lillibridge made it a 6-2 game with a run-scoring single. The Cubs added four more runs in the eighth, and Junior Lake homered in the ninth.
Appearing in his first game since Tommy John surgery last April, the Angels' Michael Kohn pitched a 1-2-3 fifth inning, striking out two. Jackson had two hits for the Cubs.
Valbuena, who could be the Cubs' Opening Day third baseman with injuries to Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters, hit his second home run in as many games, counting an intrasquad game Friday.
"I'm focused," Valbuena said. "I'm not trying to hit a home run, I'm just trying to hit the ball hard."
Angels up next: Barry Enright will make his spring debut while starting against the A's at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Sunday. The 26-year-old right-hander is expected to start in Triple-A this year, but Enright believes he'll do so as a different pitcher. After struggling in the D-backs' system the last couple seasons, he found success with the Angels' Triple-A affiliate late last season, posting a 2.73 ERA in eight starts, and spent the offseason going back to staying behind the ball in his delivery. The subtle change, Enright believes, will give him more deception on his changeup and allow his fastball velocity to remain consistent.
Cubs up next: Jeff Samardzija will make his Cactus League debut in the Cubs' home opener Sunday against the Giants at HoHoKam Stadium. Samardzija, coming off his first full season as a starter, is vying for the Opening Day assignment. He led the Cubs last season with 28 starts despite being shut down after Sept. 8. Sunday's game will be broadcast on Cubs.com with Len Kasper handling the play-by-play. This is the Cubs' last season at HoHoKam; they move to a new facility in west Mesa in 2014. Sunday's lineup will have most of the regulars, including David DeJesus, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Alfonso Soriano, and Darwin Barney.