I've been sitting here trying to think of how to begin the recap of the Cubs' 9-7 win over the Reds in the second game of their split doubleheader Saturday. What sort of word or words describe it best?
Unexpected? Definitely. The Cubs had lost nine straight road games and had scored nine or more runs exactly once since June 18.
Weird? For sure, especially given the lineup which really did look like a spring-training split-squad lineup, with Starlin Castro hitting cleanup. Castro rose to the occasion, having three hits and coming to the plate in the eighth inning with a chance at hitting for the cycle; needing a home run, it wasn't really expected, and he struck out.
Satisfying? Definitely, especially for Brooks Raley, who posted his first major-league win, throwing five pretty good innings, and for the bullpen, especially for Carlos Marmol, who posted his 14th consecutive save.
Brett Jackson hit his first major-league home run, a line-drive rocket down the right-field like. That's the good news for Jackson; the bad is that he struck out three more times, bringing his total of K's to 23 in 42 plate appearances. That can't be described as anything but "bad". When he does hit, the ball is likely to go far: of his eight hits, three are for extra bases. He just needs to figure out how to do that more often.
No one should get too excited about this win; it was off a Triple-A pitcher, Todd Redmond, making his major-league debut, and he looked every bit of it, much as Raley did two weeks ago; Redmond didn't make it out of the fourth inning and gave up seven hits, five walks and six earned runs. Haven't checked, but I'd imagine the combined total of major-league starts for the two pitchers in this game before it began (two, both by Raley) could be the lowest in many years, or even decades. Redmond is headed back to Triple-A Louisville, likely returning only when rosters expand, if then; Raley is probably going to stick in the Cubs' rotation, at least for the rest of the season.
The Cubs will wrap up their series at Cincinnati Sunday afternoon; the game preview will post at 10:45 a.m. CDT.