The ending for the 2019 campaign is far from written, and one clunker shouldn't erase all the positive vibes from this weekend. The Reds are also a better team than their record indicates, and they've been a lurking team on the rise for a while now. They also have inexplicably taken the first 7 of 10 against the Cubs, and if the Cubs fail to win the division for a second straight year these losses could loom large.
The Reds put the ball in play four times to start the game. Nick Senzel and Joey Votto hit the ball hard, but the infield was able to convert them into outs. Eugenio Suarez hit a ball in the air and it carried far enough to put the Reds ahead 1-0. Yasiel Puig hit a pop fly, handled by the second baseman to end the inning.
Luis Castillo started out even stronger than Hendricks. Cubs struck out three of the first four plate appearances. Jason Heyward hit a two out single in the second to get the Cubs offense going, but Castillo's fifth punch out ended the inning.
Kyle Hendricks settled in to retire the next five Reds hitters. The Professor ran into issues in the bottom of the third with two outs. Nick Senzel singled and Hendricks refused to give in to Joey Votto or Eugenio Suarez. The bases were loaded with two outs and Yasiel Puig coming to the plate. Puig bounced a grounded to David Bote at third, for the final out of the inning to leave the bags juiced.
David Bote followed the solid defensive play with a lead off single in the bottom half of the inning. He was wiped out on the Hendricks double play ball but Kyle Schwarber tied the game with one swing. Javier Baez lined out to second to end the inning.
Hendricks continued to roll. He yielded a two out double to Jose Iglesias in the fourth inning, but was otherwise clean heading into the sixth inning. The Cubs offense went to work in the bottom half. Kris Bryant drew a lead off walk and Anthony Rizzo rolled a groundball against the shift for a double. Victor Caratini struck out and Jason Heyward hit a weak grounder to the left side. But that was enough to give the Cubs a 2-1 edge. A wild pitch allowed Rizzo to score, making it a 3-1 game before David Bote struck out.
Hendricks retired Suarez to start the sixth inning, but Puig's high fly ball, which had enough hang time to make Pat O'Donnell jealous, hit nothing but basket. Hendricks plunked Derek Dietrich's arm guard to put the tying run on base, but the Professor would record two more outs to leave with a 3-2 score.
Rizzo hit a ground rule double to start the Cubs half of the sixth. The Victory Carrot struck out again, but Heyward slapped a grounder through the left side to put an insurance run in scoring position. Addison Russell drew a bases loading walk with just one out. Robel Garcia worked the count, but struck out swinging for the key second out. Bote struck out swinging as well as Castillo escaped the jam still down only a run.
Steve Cishek was called upon and catcher Curt Casali tied the game with a single swing. Cishek continued to run into issues with Jesse Winker singling and Javier Baez's error allowing the next batter to reach. Joey Votto flew out to left for the first out of the inning. Suarez hit a hot smash that bounced over David Bote's glove, turning a double play ball into a run scoring play. Cishek induced a double play on the next pitch to keep the Reds to 4 runs.
Michael Lorenzen retired the first two Cubs he faced, but he lost Kris Bryant on balls. A slider bounced on Rizzo's foot to move the tying run into scoring position. Caratini hit a soft fly ball right to Puig to end the inning. Randy Rosario started the eighth inning and yielded a single to pinch Phillip Ervin to start the inning. A wild pitch and Scooter Gennett groundball advanced Ervin to third with just one out. Brad Brach was called upon and got a foul out from Jose Iglesias for a key second out. Brach induced another foul pop up that Rizzo wasn't able to grab. Kyle Farmer took the second chance and smashed a run scoring double. Michael Lorenzen made the non-play hurt even more when he hit a single through the right side to extend the Reds lead to 6-3. Nick Senzel flew out to end the inning.
The Cubs started another rally against Lorenzen in the eighth. Addison Russell hit a one out single and Bote ripped another single to end Lorenzen's evening. Raisel Iglesias came in for the five out save and Albert Almora Jr. greeted him by hitting another ball on a line. But this one was snagged by Suarez who then fired to second for the easy double play to end the inning.
Pedro Strop pitched the ninth for the Cubs. Yaisel Puig hit a two out single on a 3-0 pitch, but the Reds failed to score against Strop, who looked better. Iglesias retired the Cubs in order to end the game punching out the final two batters.
That was a clunker and one worth forgetting about at this point. And the front office did what they could to make that happen with a minor but interesting move.
The Cubs traded Mike Montgomery to the Royals for catcher Martin Maldonado. Willson Contreras is headed to the 10 day IL, but that doesn't seem to be the primary motivation for the Cubs making this move with Contreras expected to only miss the minimum ten days. More analysis to come.