The Cubs and Reds battled in the penultimate game of the regular season Saturday afternoon in Cincinnati. Probable game one starter Jon Lester got his final chance to make a case for the Cy Young Award. Opposing the Chicago lefty for the Reds was righty Tim Adleman.
It became clear early on Saturday that big Jon did not have his best stuff. Jose Peraza got hit by a pitch leading off the bottom of the 1st and stole second base. After advancing to third with one out, a Joey Votto grounder scored Peraza to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. Eugenio Suarez snuck a two-run homer inside the right field foul pole to increase the Cincinnati lead to 3-0 in the 2nd.
Suarez continued to be a pain for Lester adding a sacrifice fly in the 3rd inning to make it a 4-0 spread. Finally, the Baby Bears staged a rally in the 4th inning to attempt to get Jon win number 20. Anthony Rizzo singled and Addison Russell walked, putting two on with two outs for Jason Heyward. Heyward lined hard to right field, but it looked like it was right at Reds right fielder. That right fielder, Patrick Kivlehan, broke the wrong way on the ball however, allowing it to sail over his head for a two-run double. Javy Baez followed with an RBI-single to left making it only a 4-3 Brennaman’s lead.
Lester continued to struggle into the 5th, Joey Votto doubled home another run to make it 5-3. Pedro Strop pitched a clean 6th inning and Hector Rondon came in as scripted in the 7th. Rondon ran into some trouble in his inning of work. Votto the “hit machine” doubled home another run, and then scored on a Hernan Iribarren single to bring the score to 7-3.
Ben Zobrist would chip away a bit with his third homer in two games to cut the margin to 7-4. Aroldis Chapman pitched around a jam in the 8th to post a scoreless frame. Fellow Cuban Raisel Iglesias saved the Reds 7-4 victory in the 9th.
Les Than Stellar
So Jon Lester had a rough outing today like Jake Arrieta had before him. At least to me it’s not really a cause for alarm, especially with Jon. Lester’s last seven starts before Saturday he had a sub 1.00 ERA and was 7-0. Arguably a more dominant stretch than Jake Arrieta had in the second-half last season. No matter how hard the Cubs try to make these final games important or meaningful they just can’t. They don’t matter, and it’s just hard to create that playoff atmosphere. So I put no stock in any performance this last two weeks. Feel free to disagree in comments if you do.
Going Off Script
This game was more or less a dress rehearsal for game one of the NL Division Series Friday. The lineup behind Lester will look an awful lot like it did today, if not exactly the same. Strop, Rondon, and Chapman will probably be the pen used with a late lead on Friday. Again the results in this game weren’t important but the players used will be important when thinking about this Friday. Also it’s worth noting that this game is likely the last David Ross regular season start ever. So here’s to you Grandpa Rossy, it was fun to watch you play.
Meanwhile in the Wild Card
The Mets beat the Phillies 5-3 in Philadelphia this afternoon to clinch home field in the Wild Card Game. The Giants beat the Dodgers 3-0 in San Francisco to earn at least a tie for the second Wild Card. Known evildoer Jedd Gyorko hit a home run to give the Cardinals a 4-3 win over the hapless Pirates in St. Louis. The Cardinals will need to win and have the Gigantes lose to force a one-game playoff on Monday.
Since this is the last start for Ross in his regular season career I thought I would show this again. Honestly this is just awesome so don’t really need a reason to show it.
3. Dexter Fowler: 2-3, 1 BB. Dex got career hit number 1000 in the 7th. You go we go buddy!
2. Eugenio Suarez: 1-2, HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Suarez knocked in 3 of the runs Lester allowed Saturday.
1. Joey Votto: 3-5, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 1R. Votto hit .214 the first two months of the season. He is now hitting .326 for the season. The man is an absolute freak.
Well there you have it my final recap of the season. I guess I should give a playoff prediction. It’s a rather simple one. I have literally no idea what will happen. Anyone that tells you they do is lying to you. Theo Epstein has a very simple playoff philosophy that I always liked back to his Boston days. No one knows what will happen in the playoffs. All you can do is try to make it every year and you are bound to get hot one of them. Here’s hoping this is the year.