Wait! There was a rug under me. Who pulled it out?
First inning Kyle Schwarber, batting second. First pitch: takes a fastball straight down the middle. Second pitch: swings and misses at a slider, down out of the zone. Third: whiffs badly on another slider, this one in the zone. The Reds announcer proclaimed, “Boy he just worked over Schwarber in that at bat.”
To date I have resisted piling onto the “Joe Maddon is a moron” bandwagon. But really, why is a guy batting .202 hitting second in the batting order? Sure, his OBP is a robust, .312, but still.
Jake Arrieta, looking sharp, throwing all fastballs, struck out the side in the first.
In the top of the second, after Anthony Rizzo tapped out back to the mound the other Reds announcer put the hex on Reds starter Sal Romano by declaring, “Zobrist, Schwarber, Bryant Rizzo, Happ. These are tough hitters. You work your way through here all of the sudden your confidence gets to go” [**CRACK**] pretty good.” And while those words were hanging in the air the ball off of Ian Happ’s bat flew into the right field stands to put the Cubs up 1-0.
In the top of the fourth, the Reds turned a Kris Bryant error off the bat of Zach Cozart and a Joey Votto single into the tying run.
In the bottom of the fifth Jason Heyward paid homage to his old buddy Jorge Soler by looking befuddled on a shallow fly he could have easily caught and letting it fall in front of him for a single for Eugenio Suarez. Then Arrieta walked Jesse Winkler to put runners at first and second with no out. But fear not. Jake struck out Tucker Barnhart, Anthony Rizzo got the lead man on a sacrifice attempt by Romano, and Jake struck out Billy Hamilton to end the threat.
In the top of the sixth, Kris Bryant doubled down the left field line with one out. Then after a pop out by the Rizz, Javier Baez—he of the .273 average—roped a fastball into left field and Bryant being the base running savant that he is, scored easily to make it 2-1.
In the bottom of the inning, after a single by Cozart, the Reds looked like they had the game tied, when Joey Votto laced the ball into left over the head of Schwarber, who made a very Adam Dunn-esque play at the ball, before uncorking a rocket to cut man Javy Baez who made a textbook catch-turn-bullet throw to nail Cozart at the plate and preserve the lead. Later in the inning, Jake walked the bases loaded with two outs, which prompted Maddon to give him the hook. Brian Duensing induced a grounder to get out of the inning.
Everyone’s favorite Cub, Carl Edwards, Jr. pitched a perfect bottom of the second. The Reds announcers described it as “Dominant”. And it was looking like one of the nights where the Cubs bullpen is really good.
In the bottom of the eighth, Pedro Strop got Cozart to fly out to center. Then, Jason Heyward apparently felt he had done enough for his old bro, Jorge, because he made a fantastic diving catch charging in on a shallow ball off the bat of Votto for the second out. Then the wheels fell off. Adam Duvall singled, then Scooter Gennett doubled down the left field line to put runners at second and third. Then Strop walked Suarez, and Jose Perazea hit a deep fly to the warning track in center that Happ made a valiant effort at, but bounced over the wall for a ground rule double, and brought in two to give the Reds the lead.
At this point, I am going to jump on the “Maddon is an idiot” bandwagon—Albert Almora, Jr. catches that ball. Why is he not the everyday centerfielder with Happ in left?
The Reds plated another run in the eighth, and the Cubs went out with a whimper in the 9th. Fly the “L”.
The Cubs played a good game until the Strop implosion. What are you going to do? And all is not lost. We’re still in first place.