The Joey Votto Infield Popup Game: Cubs 7, Reds 5

The Joey Votto Infield Popup Game: Cubs 7, Reds 5

It wasn't tidy, but the Cubs have a winning record again.

Thanks to an especially productive 2nd inning, there was enough padding to the lead to withstand a Cincinnati offense that did not go quietly. Ian Happ, who has avoided returning to Iowa even with Ben Zobrist returning to the lineup, led off with a walk and then advanced to third on Zobrist's line drive to right field. This enabled him to score on Addison Russell's grounder that took out Zobrist at second base. This drew to the game to a tie, as, for the second night, Zack Cozart drove in a 1st-inning run. From there, the Cubs piled on. Miguel Montero drew a walk, Kyle Hendricks struck out, and then Jon Jay was hit by a pitch to load the bases. There was some concern that Jay was hurt afterward, but he proved to be okay. Kyle Schwarber's timely single when play resumed drove in two and warmed the hearts of Cubs fans who have seen him flail so helplessly at the plate so much of the time this season. Scott Feldman could not stop the bleeding here, giving up a walk to Kris Bryant, followed by a two-run single to Anthony Rizzo. When the dust settled on the inning, the Cubs were up 5-1.

But of course Cozart---there's always a Cozart---started the top of the 3rd with a solo home run, making him the first since Carlos Beltran in 2004 to homer in 5 straight games at Wrigley. Even more rare, however, was the Joey Votto infield popup that followed. Impressively, Hendricks didn't allow this to distract him, and he proceeded to muscle through two more outs and turn things over to his offense.

Zobrist led off the bottom of the 3rd with a double and made his way to third on Adam Duvall's error in left field that also allowed Miguel Montero to reach. Hendricks chipped in on his own cause by laying down a sacrifice bunt that scored Zobrist. Jay then singled to score Montero and end Feldman's night. 7-2, Cubs.

The next few innings went by mostly uneventfully, until the top of the 7th, when the Reds made it a two-run game. Mike Montgomery replaced Hendricks, and though he has been generally steady otherwise, this outing did not go well. For the want of the third out, Cincinnati just kept getting on base. Montgomery got once-heralded former Cub Arismendy Alcantara to ground out and then did the same to Billy Hamilton. Then the unraveling. Cozart---COZART---singled again, and then Votto walked. Duvall got the chance to make amends for his earlier defensive mistake and singled to score Cozart. Here, Joe Maddon brought in Pedro Strop to try and secure this last out, but he surrendered a two-run double to Eugenio Suarez. The Cubs still lead, but a lot less comfortably.

Thankfully, Wade Davis, who has yet to blow a save this season, took care of the 9th. Some credit is due Anthony Rizzo for his remarkable stretch to nab that last out and keep his foot on the bag. The initial call was that the runner was safe, but upon review, it was pretty evident otherwise.

Cubs win, 7-5.

Source: FanGraphs

Looking better?

The Cubs are showing shades of what we expected of them when the season started. There's no sense in rehashing the hypotheses as to why they are fighting to keep their heads above the waterline of .500 baseball, but through the first two games of this series, they are looking familiar again. Ideally, Montgomery and Strop have a better 7th inning, but with that removed, this was a quality night.

Betting on the offense to keep floundering would be foolhardy, but the concerns about the starting pitching felt more legitimate. Hendricks assuaged some of these worries nicely tonight, not only throwing a quality start, but flashing some of the velocity that was missing a month ago.

Pierce gets the call

John wrote about this news earlier today, but Pierce Johnson is finally in the majors after a rather difficult journey through the minor leagues.

I got to interview Johnson just before the start of the season for 2080 Baseball, and we talked about the transition to the bullpen that he made last season. He has some interesting lefty/righty splits and can be used situationally against left-handed hitters, but I imagine we will see him in a more traditional middle relief role most of the time.

Time to capitalize

The Cubs need to string together a lot of wins. It's time to rally, and this homestand is a great time to do it. Games against the Reds, Brewers, and the Giants, who have also scuffled out of the gate, are likely to provide the right opportunity for these wins to happen.

Random Reference

Not to cheapen this song, but I think, I think we are seeing a shift in the right direction.

Three Stars of Game (No, I'm not giving Cozart a star)
Third Star- Anthony Rizzo (1 for 4, 2 RBI)

But also because of the stretch for that last out.

Second Star- Carl Edwards, Jr (1 IP, 0 H, 2 K)

His was a very important inning after the rough 7th.

First Star- Kyle Hendricks (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K)

It wasn't dazzling, but it was quality.


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    Great Recap as usual.

    Cubs are rather fortunate and even though they have had a lot of injuries this month, they are deep and can weather it.

    On the other hand, we have caught the Reds at the right time where they are pitching poorly ( we pretty much own them for the past 2+ years anyway) and the next team coming in the Brew Crew is banged up so we should be able to roll them as well.

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    Kyle and Carl pitched really well but Happ came back to earth tonight. He was a little bit more anxious at the plate, but how many games has he played? I'm still a big supporter though. Also, not only did Votto pop up in the infield, but he didn't pop up ONCE last year in the infield. That's a big deal. Hendricks can pitch and he's showing signs that he is reverting to last year's great season.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Maybe Happ was anxious, but he did walk and scored the first run. In just four games, he has four walks. The Cubs lead the NL is walks, so he seems to fit the offensive profile they like.

  • Once again Bang Bang gave up two inherited runners. That's 4 in the last two appearances which are not part of his 4.5 ERA. Seems to happen with two strikes and he throws that rolling slider. Either someone needs to tell him to put that pitch in his pocket, tell the catcher not to call for it or better yet keep him seated with men on base. Starting to become a problem. Add that to the two other bad outing in St Louis earlier in the year and his name keeps popping up in the uhh-oh column.

  • Hendricks doesn't always need to be dazzling, as long as he's quality, and I'm glad to see the quality coming around more often. The dazzling will reappear too I'm guessing. I love how Edwards goes about his business. He's becoming one of the most reliable and trusted in the bullpen.

    I'm more encouraged by the bats waking up. Everyone seemed to slump at once, but it'll be bad news for other teams if the bats all come around at the same time.

    If the Cubs can carry this momentum through the Reds, Brewers and Giants, this will be looking up in June.

  • Wow. The Hold Police is at it again...How in the WORLD does Strop get a hold when he gave up a two-rbi double to the first man he faced in the 7th inning, allowing both of his (Montgomery's runners) inherited runners to score. I would think that the inherited runners/inherited runners scored stat would be more of a thing, at least something like iso and the rc stat. It could be argued that Strop getting the third out with his first batter faced (he had 2 bf) would have been a more valuable save (or rather, hold), than his second batter faced; than the traditional ninth inning job (save(s)) that we have been getting from Davis. I am sorry for that run on sentence.

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    In reply to rickmonday:

    Pretty sure he gets the hold precisely because he let the 2 inherited runners score. Those runs get charged to Montgomery, and after they scored it became a "save" situation because it was within 3 runs. Then Strop gets out of the inning and turns it over to the next guy, thus "holding" the save situation.

    Saves and holds are both arbitrary and not indicative of actual performance (for the most part) and Strops stat line showed that tonight.

    For really good explanation and analysis of these and other antiquated stats i cant recomend Kieth Law's new book "Smart Baseball" enough. It is a very enjoyable read.

  • In reply to Zachary John:

    Oh! Ok. So, Montgomery didn't get a hold (bc he ended up pitching poorly OR because he left too many ducks in the pond, or that his runners scored NOT so or as much as​ a fault of his own, but) bc he wasn't in a situation to earn a hold.

    Thank you for that book recommendation.

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    In reply to rickmonday:

    Yes sir, relief pitchers are responsible for the batters they face regardless if they get an out or not.

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    Wish those stupid Reds had found a taker for Cozart before the season when they were pretty much looking to give him away. Now when they fall out of contention they might get something worthwhile, if he's still slashing 3/4/5

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    In reply to Nick Perry:

    He's always been a solid to very good player. His problems were always injuries, some freak and some bad luck. Nobody ever has doubted his ability. Those teams that inquired about him over the winter and didn't pull the trigger are kicking themselves right now.

    Who would have though 3-4 years ago that Zack Cosart would arguably be having the best season in the NL and Jean Segura in the AL? The Reds are going to get quite the haul for Cosart this trade deadline. Perhaps this is the year somebody "frees" Votto from Cincinnati.

  • Despite that Happ was a bit over anxious in a couple at bats last night, he looks like one of those hitters that 'lengthens the lineup' with a.solid approach. In 2015 it was Schwarber and last year it was Contreras. This year Happ?

    Thanks for the reminder on Otis. Talk about a gifted artist that left us too soon.

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    Hendricks pitched a great game when you consider that the wind was blowing straight out again. Great Job Kyle!!

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    I just read where a die-hard cub fan died last night after falling over a railing while exiting the ballpark. How sad.

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    In reply to Greg Simmons:

    I got the bleacher report alert this morning as well. What the heck is going on in this world? I hope he wasn't "over served"

  • i hope Pierce does well. i think id prefer him over Grimm at this point

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