Cubs 5, Reds 4: Scott Hairston Contributes; Trade Rumor Season Begins

Joe Robbins

The Cubs appeared headed to a dull, uninteresting loss Sunday. Surprisingly, they came back and won. Yes, really. Read on for the "happy totals", as Jack Brickhouse used to call them. And maybe it's time to talk about some trade possibilities.

If this recap feels a bit disjointed, it's because I started writing it when the Cubs were down 4-0 and it seemed as if there were no way they'd come back, and entire paragraphs were either moved, rewritten or deleted entirely.

So, here goes: Credit to the team for fighting back on the road, never an easy thing but especially not against a team that came into the game with the best home record in baseball (18-7). The Reds looked like they were on their way toward sweeping the series against the Cubs in Cincinnati, but a late-inning Cubs comeback led to a 5-4 Cubs victory, their only one in the series and just their second in six tries at GABP this year. It snapped a six-game losing streak, and is the best win of the year so far (granted, that's a low bar to hurdle). The contest was also the third extra-inning game the Cubs have played in Cincinnati this year; they've gone 2-1 in those games, and are now 2-2 overall in extra-inning affairs.

Scott Hairston, who hasn't done much at all this year, drew a walk on a full count in the 10th inning and wheeled around the bases to score the eventual winning run on a Welington Castillo double. Kevin Gregg, who had come on in the ninth inning when Kyuji Fujikawa left with an apparent injury (more on this later; I told you this would be disjointed), retired the Reds in the 10th to preserve the win despite a runner reaching on catcher interference by Castillo.

All right, now let's go back to earlier in the game. One entertaing moment happened when Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto was warned by plate umpire Bob Davidson for throwing far over the head of David DeJesus.

Both Cueto and DeJesus were laughing; Len and JD speculated that it was because of DeJesus' constant stepping out of the box during his first at-bat of the game, supposedly meant to throw off Cueto's timing. And Cueto's really going to throw at DDJ five innings later? Bob Davidson needs to get over his God complex, in my view.

The Cubs looked like they were going to go down to their seventh straight defeat, but put together a three-run rally in the eighth inning to tie the game at 4, capped by Alfonso Soriano's two-run homer, his fifth of the season and first since May 13. Soriano, as you know, is a notorious streak hitter; if he can get on one of those, maybe this Cubs team can still put together a winning streak.

The Cubs have had trouble scoring on the road all season; in 24 home games the Cubs have scored 117 runs and allowed 110 (which should result in a better record than 10-14), but in 25 road games they have scored just 73 runs and given up 92. Even so, that should result in a better road record than 9-16.

Kyuji Fujikawa left the game with two out and two on in the ninth, and the trainer went to the mound. It looked as if Fujikawa was shaking his right arm after he threw his last pitch to Joey Votto, and again as he walked off. Let's hope that doesn't mean another trip to the DL.

The Cubs hit four doubles in all Sunday (Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney and Castillo), giving them 111 for the season. That's an average of 2.27 per game, and a pace for 367 for the season. Again, that would shatter the team record of 340 set in 1931 and tied in 2007.

Even with Sunday's win, the Cubs remain in last place, far from contention. Scott Feldman seems a prime candidate for a deal; even with Sunday's not-so-great outing, Matt Garza is, too. So, for that matter, is Gregg, who doesn't really fit in the team's future plans and could likely help a team looking for a closer (the Cleveland Indians come to mind, after Chris Perez left their Sunday game with an apparent injury). The Cubs do have better candidates to replace those two in the rotation if they do swap both of them than they had a year ago, and could use Fujikawa to replace Gregg; Scott Baker should be back by July and Carlos Villanueva could return to starting. But would these sorts of deals lead to another August and September like 2012 (18-42)? Just how long can you have years like this before you decide you're going to try and contend? There's supposedly a timetable... but right now, that seems far away.

With the Cubs headed for their first two games at an American League park starting Monday (there will be 10 of those in all, two at the White Sox, two at the Angels, and three each at the Mariners and Athletics), the DH will come into play. Len and JD hinted that Scott Hairston and Dioner Navarro could be the Cubs' two DHs at the Cell, though using Navarro as the DH limits you -- you then can't pinch-run for Welington Castillo without losing the DH. (There's also the question of whether the Cubs' pitchers could hit better than Hairston.)

Well, I told you this thing was disjointed. Hope you can make some sense of it. That was a nice win; I'm sure the Cubs' flight back to Chicago will be a happy one. On to interleague play Monday.

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