Reds 10 @ Cubs 8
Apologies for the tardiness of the recap.
The Windy Confines
From the outset it was obvious the wind would play a role in Friday’s contest between the Reds and Cubs. Barney reached in the 1st on a pop-up to shallow CF that triangulated a landing spot between three Red defenders (not to be confused with communist sympathizers).
If you look at the box score, you’ll see 5 Cub errors. Yet Germano was facing a 2-1 deficit before all the tomfoolery started. He didn’t pitch great, but he didn’t get any help from his teammates behind him (or in front him for that matter).
Brandon Phillips reached on an error by Rizzo; before Germano could even gather himself, Ludwick deposited a pitch in the CF bleachers. Later in the inning Vitters couldn’t corral a sharply hit ball at 3B, then Castro let a routine grounder sneak under his glove. All of this combined to give the Reds a 5-1 lead; either of the final two plays would’ve been the third out of the inning.
About that time the Cubs broke out of a funk, or started to at least. Barney and Rizzo reached on infield singles, both moved up on a wild pitch, and came around to score on Soriano’s double. Castro walked and stole second, but the Cubs couldn’t get anything else out of the inning. 5-3 is where it would stay until the 6th.
With two outs in the 6th, Welington Castillo tried to prevent Drew Stubbs from stealing second base. That’s the only explanation for Castillo’s throw, but his toss was so woefully offline, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he has an alternate explanation. It was 15 feet to the right of 2B, Castro had no chance. Barney tried to grab it backing up the play but could only deflect it with his wrist. Unfortunately his deflection turned it into a difficult play for Brett Jackson in CF. Unable to stop it, Jackson was charged with an error on the play – that’s right, a simple throw to 2B got past 3 Cub defenders and Stubbs came around to score. 6-3.
Alberto Cabrera had entered the game just after Stubbs reached on an infield single. He needed to get one out. After Castillo’s blunder, Cabrera looked rattled. Double, Walk, Walk, Single and two runs score before he can out of it. 8-3.
Sure to become a flashpoint for Castro detractors, Starlin stole 2B while Vitters was busy lining the ball to RF. Bluffed by Phillips, Castro didn’t immediately identify the location of the ball, but when he did he trudged on to 3B. He didn’t make it in time, thrown out by a mile. Dale was outspoken about how mad he was with Castro’s lack of situational awareness; the organization made it a point to report that Dale had spent significant time in private rebuking Castro for the play. Sveum seemed to take issue with Castro stealing in that situation as well – he was apparently doing so of his own choice. Castillo would be gifted a wind/sun-aided double later in the inning that scored Vitters. I should also note that Rizzo was thrown out making an even dumber baserunning play in the game on Thursday (trying to go from 2B to 3B on an infield groundout AFTER the throw to first). The way the Cubs publicly dealt with the two situations could not have been more different. Maybe you think Castro’s earned the harsher reaction – I question what it’s supposed to accomplish.
After Castillo’s double ran the score to 8-4, the Cubs had 2 on and 2 out one inning later. Emerging from the doghouse, Castro roped a double to LF. 8-6. Shawn Camp would fool around and give up one run in the 8th before the Cubs used a walk and two doubles off of Jonathan Broxton to cut the lead to 1. 9-8.
Winded At Wrigley
Dusty Baker called on Aroldis Champman to finish the 8th. He would overpower the Cubs in the ninth too. But in between, Manny Corpas gave up 1 run and watched as another pop-up fell between three outfielders – this time with the Cubs attempting to defend. Brett Jackson got the worst of it, he dove headfirst (too soon and with zero chance to make the play), Castro made a last-ditch effort to catch the ball and in doing so slid into Jackson’s right side.
This game had a little bit of everything, but the Cubs once again find themselves unable to combine offense, defense, and pitching in a winning formula. At least they were better with the bats!