Filling in for Jon Lester, Mike Montgomery made an outstanding start. Against a potent Reds offense, he threw a quality start in which he allowed only five baserunners.
But most of us probably didn't notice.
Instead, we were dazzled by the fireworks show put on by the offense. That's fine, of course, because the kind of night the lineup put together today is one worth appreciating. If not for the bottom of the 9th inning and the superfluous Cincinnati runs scored on a trio of homers, this would have been one of the more flawless nights in the Cubs' 2017 season.
The Reds' Asher Wojchiechowski last faced the Cubs nine days ago, and this result must have felt as if he had never left that previous start behind -- Woj gave up seven runs in 3.2 innings on August 14, seven earned runs in 3.2 tonight -- and the damage was immediate.
Leadoff hitter Jon Jay singled to begin the game, and after walks by Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo, Woj notched his second out of the inning and probably hoped he would escape unscathed. Instead, he walked Tommy La Stella on five pitches to grant the Cubs their first run. Two more came on Jason Heyward's first-pitch single to left.
Heyward came up with another two-out RBI in the third inning, this one scoring Rizzo to put the Cubs up, 4-0.
The real excitement came in the fourth inning though. Montgomery helped his own cause by singling to lead off the inning, Jay singled on the first pitch of his at-bat, and then Kyle Schwarber homered to left center. The blast was reviewed, but ruled in Schwarber's favor. Two outs later, Alex Avila singled, and then Tommy La Stella hit a longball of his own. 9-0, Cubs.
The game really should have stayed that way, and after Montgomery handed things over to the bullpen in the seventh inning, the first two frames of relief went perfectly. Justin Wilson did not allow a single baserunner -- a mighty accomplishment for him since he has donned the Cubs uniform -- in the seventh, and then Koji Uehara followed with a perfect eighth inning.
So when Hector Rondon was assigned the last inning, this had the looks of a shutout ready to be completed. Instead, he gave up solo home runs to Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, and Scott Schebler. Whatever. I'll admit to being a little distracted in the final innings by the Dodgers-Pirates game anyway.
Cubs win, 9-3.
I'll quote myself here:
Justin Wilson needs to pitch a few garbage innings. I don't think it's anything other than mental with him.
— Jared Wyllys (@jwyllys) August 20, 2017
Obviously, one inning does not prove me right, but I'll act as if it does.
Player of the Game:
I enjoyed Heyward's pair of two-out RBI, but the spot-starter deserves the nod: Mike Montgomery (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K)