The Cubs offense was held in check by Gray for six innings. Cubs hitters managed two hits against the Reds righty with reverse splits in that time. Both hits came from left handed pinch hitters in the fifth and sixth frames. The Cubs put a runner in scoring position in each of those innings with a walk as well, but it was all for naught. The Cubs never put the tying run in scoring position and it was a game that was over early.
The Reds offense went to work right away against Kyle Hendricks pitching more like a TA than the Professor in the first inning. Joey Votto hit a ball into center field which bounced off of Albert Almora Jr.'s glove for a one out double to start the onslaught. Eugenio Suárez hit an easy flyball which Almora actually caught. Josh VanMeter received a generous ball call on the first pitch. The curveball crossed up Jonathan Lucroy who wasn't able to frame the pitch and a clear strike was called a ball. The extra pitch loomed large when VanMeter doubled on a 2-2 pitch to drive in the Reds first run. VanMeter must have felt bad about the break because he inexplicably took off for third with two outs and was easily picked off by Hendricks for the final out.
Aristides Aquino and Nick Senzel hit back to back homers to start the second inning. Tucker Barnhart and José Peraza hit back to back singles as the bottom of the Reds order absolutely wore out Cubs pitching all evening. Sonny Gray sacrificed the pair into scoring position. Hendricks struck out Jesse Winker and Joey Votto to give some hope that he might settle in.
Those hopes were dashed completely as Hendricks wasn't able to record the final out in the third inning. The Professor retired Suárez and VanMeter to start the frame. Cubs pitchers were still throwing strikes to Aquino for some reason and he launched his second homer of the game. Nick Senzel hit what should have been a routine single, but the only Cub in the running for having a worse night than Hendricks was Albert Almora who misplayed the ball allowing Senzel to reach second. Barnhart singled to extend the Reds lead to 5-0. Peraza hit a ground rule double next, proving that it was just going to be one of those nights Sonny Gray bounced a ball out of reach of Ian Happ to drive in another pair of runs. Jesse Winker doubled to end Kyle Hendricks worst start as a big leaguer.
Dillon Maples recorded the final out of the third inning, and he was the first Cub reliever to get a chance to put a goose egg on the board. Suárez hit a homer to lead off the fourth to dash that hope. And then Aquino hit another mammoth blast to put the Reds up 9-0.
Alec Mills was able to put a zero on the board in the fifth inning. It wasn't exactly clean though with a two out free pass issued to Jesse Winker. Votto hit it to deep center, but Almora was able to grab it for the final out. Kyle Farmer crushed a ball to start the bottom of the sixth to make sure that no Cubs pitcher felt good. Mills was the first Cubs pitcher to decide issuing a free pass with a base open to Aquino was a smart strategy. Unfortunately that decision came with the Cubs down by double digits. Mills loaded the bases with two outs with another walk and a hit by pitch. David Bell had reliever Sal Romano ground out to end the inning in a bit of a sportsmanship.
The Cubs put traffic on the bases against Romano in his two innings of work, but were unable to salvage any dignity with a late inning rally for a few runs. Mills pitched the Cubs only 1-2-3 inning in the eighth inning to save the bullpen. Kyle Schwarber hit a bomb to lead off the ninth to prevent the Cubs from being shutout for a fifth time, but Romano completed the three inning save.
This was my expression the second time the Cubs decided it would be smart to throw anything near the zone to Aquino.