Bats Hot, Bullpen Less So but Winning is Fum--Cubs 8 Reds 5

It was a pretty similar affair as last night's delayed gratification win. The bullpen did not make nearly as much of a nail-biter, but the Cubs followed a familiar formula to victory. The Cubs bats provided an early lead, and a solid start put the Cubs in an easy position. The bullpen made it closer than it should have been, but the end result was the Cubs third straight victory.

The bats have continued to mash. They have belted home runs in every single game so far in 2020, but for the third straight day it was stringing hits together that put the Cubs on the board initially. There will be slumps in 2020, but this lineup feels a lot closer to the dangerous 2016 incarnation than the feast or famine versions seen since. There are hitters capable of doing damage up and down the lineup as opposed to last year where it felt like pitchers really just had to avoid the one or two hitters that were hot at any given point in the season.

The bullpen was again given a solid lead to work with and again let the Reds inch back into the game. The Reds didn't put the tying run much less the winning run on base tonight, but David Ross biggest challenge in 2020 is finding a consistent formula for hanging onto leads in short order.

WPA CHART


Source: FanGraphs

The Cubs opened the scoring in the third inning. Jason Kipnis led off the frame with a sun aided triple. Nico Hoerner smacked a single through the infield to drive in the Northbrook native. Kipnis drove in the Cubs second run in the fourth inning. Jason Heyward and David Bote bounced one out singles back up the middle and Kipnis pulled the ball through the right side of the infield to drive in Heyward. Hoerner grounded into an inning ending double play this time.

Alec Mills had a very solid outing. Nicholas Castellanos smoked a double in the first inning, but that was the only hit allowed the first turn through the order. Mills walked Jesse Winker with two gone in the bottom of the fourth and Castellanos followed with a blast to dead center to the tie game. Mills would pitch another two scoreless frames to end the night with a quality start.

Cody Reed took the ball in the fifth inning for the Reds, and he retired the first two batters quickly. Javier Báez drove the ball into the gap for a double, and he scored on a Kyle Schwarber single served into left field. Reed would escape the inning without yielding any more damage. He faced Jason Heyward to start the sixth and walked him. Pedro Strop was summoned and looked a bit more like the Strop of 2019 by walking David Bote. Jason Kipnis executed what was essentially a swinging bunt to advance the pair into scoring position. Hoerner hit a sacrifice fly into shallow center field that Heyward was able to use to extend the Cubs lead to 4-2. 

Javier Báez hit a solo shot against Amir Garrett in the seventh inning, but that was all the Cubs could muster against the Reds very effective lefty. Casey Sadler struck out three in a four out bottom half of the inning. Aristides Aquino reached on a dropped third strike. He was the only Red to reach, but Curt Casali hit a bomb off of Sadler to start the eighth inning. Kyle Ryan would finish the frame without allowing another run to score. However, David Bote's solo shot in the top half meant that it was 6-3 ballgame heading into the ninth.

Hard throwing Michael Lorenzen was the last Reds pitcher. Anthony Rizzo greeted him with a solid single. Lorenzen balked him to second, but it didn't matter much with Báez's second bomb of the night making it 8-3. Lorenzen struck out Albert Almora, Jr. and Ian Happ to give the Reds their final chance. Ryan Tepera was given the final three outs and he punched out Castellanos and Josh VanMeter to start the inning. But a walk to Aquino extended the game for Freddy Galvis to hit a blast making it an 8-5 Cubs lead. Thankfully before that sinking feeling could get much worse Casali struck out preserving the Cubs third victory in as many days.

Random Reference

There was a little angst around the Cubs offense after its performance in the first two games against Milwaukee. Since then the team has put up 9, 8 and 8 runs. The long ball has featured prominently in every game, but the offense has done a little bit of everything in each of the wins. Two batters really stand out though as being so hot right now.

If I had stayed up to write a recap after last night's closer than it should have been victory, it would have been about Rizzo hitting three homers in four games. However, Javier Báez recorded ten total bases in tonight's game. So this reference goes out to both of them.

Comments

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  • Javy provides...

  • Mike it is nice reading you back. Something really weird happened as June came its final days this year. Suddenly my left leg stopped working and my right leg was going numb. 26 days later I was finally released from a PT Rehab hospital to a long recovery from what appears to be an obscure syndrome of COVID. Instead of attacking the lungs like most afflicted, my immune system appears to have beaten it but then the immune system went into overdrive attacking my nervous system. So when the Cubs bullpen come into a game with a big lead I am not nervous anymore.

    Anyway this is a Baez game, first scoring from a bloop with a great slide to take the lead, then a HR followed by another HR. Thank you Baez for a good game taking my mind off the recovery.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Best wishes, rnemanich. Watching a game like this when Javy puts on a tool display certainly helps ease the pain.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Wow. Puts things in perspective. I’m glad you’re better.

    Cubs are rolling!

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Get well soon, rnemanich.

    I caught COVID as well. I thought I just had minor symptoms, dry cough, fever that went away after five days. But the past two months, even just going upstairs, I have to take a breather. Just little weird symptoms that won't go away. I will claim that I was physically fit beforehand, no pre-existing conditions, now I feel like I've permanently aged 20 years. So I hear you on this, scary stuff! I've had two colleagues pass away from it too.

    Like you say, watching the Cubs is such a nice getaway, and I appreciate it as a game now. The bullpen over the years used to give me such anxiety like it was life or death, but obviously not anymore.

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    In reply to rnemanich:

    I guess it can attack any part of the body. I'm glad you're on your way to recovery, but these 9th innings can't be good for you. Maybe just see the offense the first 8 innings and then read about what happened later.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    Speedy recovery to you.

  • In reply to rnemanich:

    I hope you recover soon. Good luck.

  • In reply to Michael Ernst:

    Thank you for all the comments above. My insurance case mgr and top neurologist both state emphatically that this COVID virus is a human pathogen like an asymmetrical terrorist attacking so many systems or causing the body to overreact. The steroids that were given to me to control the apparent auto-immune attack also helps others with more widespread respiratory attacks. He said in many ways it is the opposite to HIV it seems to overdrive the immune system turning it on one's own body. The only thing I can say is wear a mask, clinical studies more than suggest that even if exposed to the virus it reduces the exposure and reduces the attack which might have helped me in the few times I went out.

    OK let us talk Cubs who are more than a distraction. My assessment over the first five games is that the club has a lot of depth around a few true All-Stars. There are only two locks in the position players for 95% of the games and that is SS and 1B., of course, Bryant is also a lock but he can platoon in the OF, and Schwarber is fast becoming another lock but he can DH too. Heyward because of his defense is an almost lock and as he contributes at the plate could move into that almost lock status.. Outside of that catcher, 2B, CF, and DH is a daily platoon status. What Ross needs to create is a well communicated and understood team "role" player within the platoon status. If he can meld Bote, Kipnis, Happ, Almora, Contreras, Castillo, Hoerner, and Souza into a mix and match every game. I am excited as I seek to get myself back to normal. Another day the pitching staff.

  • The starting staff is carrying us. The 14 hits allowed by the starting rotation through the first 5 games of the season is the fewest allowed since *at least* 1901. That, and some offense.

    Mills provided our required 6, Nico continues to Suave, and Javy added 2 big bombs.

    We beat the Reds. The Brewers lost. The DirtyBirds fell to the Twins, 3-6, and our old friend Sergio Romo even plunked Tyler O'Neill with 2 outs in the 9th for good measure. I think the Pirates might have played somebody, not really sure.

    Cubs are up by 1.5 games in the NL Central, and sit alone with the best record in the National League.

    Oh, yeah. Hendricks takes the mound tomorrow.

    Thank you! May I have another?

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    Can Norway start the countdown now :).

  • In reply to Cubs09:

    I've been wondering the same thing. It's only 60 games, but it could all end tomorrow. Norway might have to break out the calculus to keep up with these possibilities.

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    In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    of course you may! I think people got peeved at my response to you BP so I don't know if I'll continue, but I do like to do it.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    I just started doing it again because someone asked for it. I certainly don't remember anyone getting peeved at your response. In fact, when an hour or overnight went by and you hadn't responded, I recall people stepping in and replying in your place. I think we all look forward to a little fun after a W.

  • A neat little historical nugget I heard from Pat Hughes tonight:

    There are only two players in MLB history that have recorded a pitcher's W, hit a HR, and played another position during the same game. One is Babe Ruth. The other...

    Michael Lorenzen, the Reds reliever we faced tonight.

    If only we could combine Travis Wood and John Baker.

  • We have Javy Baez and you...

    I have to admit, it's fun to read articles from 2015 where people are declaring Javy a bust and calling Cub fans delusional for being excited about him.

  • In reply to DemonBerryhill:

    It is neat. We had several debates here ourselves over the years. There are a couple people on the staff here, I won't name names (*cough* me and *cough* Michael) who have been cheerleaders from the beginning, saying Javy is the best of the bunch and will become a perennial MVP candidate. I even recall instigating the "Ginger or Mary Anne" debate between Javy and Soler in 2014 or so.

    One thing has always stuck in my head. It must have been in 2015. A reader asked if Javy was part of the "core". It was a name I had never seen before, or since. I was working and not part of the discussion, but it was one of the great debates that sets this site apart from others.

    This unknown person argued that Javy was not part of the core, but a piece to be dealt. Others agreed or disagreed. It was a long, intelligent discussion with several different viewpoints. I'm still sorry I missed it. The reason it sticks in my mind was this unknown person randomly popped up, engaged in a long and insightful discussion, and I don't recall ever hearing from them again.

    Anyhows, I'm glad Javy's on my team.

  • In reply to Mike Pilbean:

    There were some great debates back in the day as we were all over the "core" --whether you were in or out of that group.

    I particularly recall the Russell vs Baez debates for SS of the future. I was passionate about Baez being a far superior player and those who disagreed and voice their opinions about Russell. Those were intense, yet respectful. Too bad all of them didn't turn out as we would have hoped. We'd still have a mega-team on the field. LOL. I still love Kasper's call on the Soler-flare that went up over STL -- "Better get used to it!" That was a fun time to see it all come together.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    Yeah, those Javy v. Russell debates about SS were good. I was also always adamant that Javy was the better SS. Russell was super smooth, but didn't have the range or anywhere near the body-control athleticism and arm strength of Baez. Plus, Javy is a leader on the field. He wants to play quarterback, and deservedly so.

    At the time, the pro-Russell people had valid arguments. On the rare days when Javy would fill in for Russell at SS, he would sometimes fail to make the routine play, and that was a glaring difference from Russell. I always argued that would smooth out if he was the full-time SS, and it mostly has.

    The biggest argument people had was that Russell played SS every day and Javy didn't, so Russell must be better. That's the argument I took the biggest issue with. Russell played SS and Javy bounced between 2B and 3B not because Russell was better, but because Javy had the mental fortitude to do so. Russell didn't. The package of Russell at SS and Javy at 2B/3B was better than the other way around.

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    One of the things we don't know about Covid is how the long term affects are, especially to the lungs. If professional athletes suffer long term affects that ends careers, not to say that might not be the worst affect.
    I hope all of our Cubs Denizens who have tested positive or have family or friends with it recover and see the FIRST PLACE CHICAGO CUBS win the Central, go through the playoffs and Win their 2nd WS championship in 5 years.

  • 4-1 is fum too :)

  • Our Cubs have a ton of offensive weapons. Our All Stars have taken a step up. Contreras was improved dramatically behind the plate. Javy is maturing right in front of our eyes. Schwarber and Rizzo are bringing it more than ever. I could go on. Is our pitching deep enough?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Starting pitching, absolutely. Bullpen, bleahhh.

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