Reds 2, Cubs 0: A Throwback Game

Brian Kersey

A well-pitched game completed in a very quick time. What's not to like? Oh, right. The result.

There's one very good thing I can report to you from Monday night's 2-0 Cubs loss to the Reds:

Time -- 2:27

Two hours, 27 minutes. I was home by 9:45. (Lately, Cubs home night games have barely been through seven innings by 9:45.) We don't see many games like this; it's just the fifth time this year (and only the third at Wrigley) that the Cubs have finished a game in less than two and a half hours. I don't think I have to tell you how much I enjoy crisply-pitched and played games, though of course it'd have been much more enjoyable if the Cubs had won. Travis Wood and James Russell -- the only two Cubs pitchers -- combined for 108 pitches. It seems as if I've seen Cubs pitchers throw that many pitches at times this year through five innings, never mind a full game.

And it's rarer still for a game at Wrigley Field to feature both starting pitchers go eight innings (or more). The last time that happened before Monday was June 13, 2010, a White Sox/Cubs matchup where Ted Lilly took a no-hitter into the ninth inning. The Sox' Gavin Floyd threw eight innings that night and got credit for a complete game.

So in case you wondered how games back in the 1960s and 1970s, pitched by Hall of Famers like Fergie Jenkins, this is how those felt. (Jenkins was the hard-luck loser in quite a number of low-scoring shutouts, too.)

The speed of the game and the quickness of the scoring means there's not much to tell. Travis Wood made one real mistake, grooving a pitch to Brandon Phillips that was deposited into the left-center field bleachers. This was one out after the only walk of the game was issued to Todd Frazier leading off the seventh inning.

Beyond that, the Cubs played good defense in the early innings, turning two double plays and having another runner (Devin Mesoraco) thrown out by left fielder David DeJesus trying to stretch a single into a double. It was DeJesus' first start in left field this year. The Reds returned the throw-out favor three innings later, when Junior Lake ill-advisedly (I thought so, anyway) tried to take third base on a one-out single by Anthony Rizzo. Shin-Soo Choo threw him out. The game was still scoreless at the time, and it appeared one run might win the game. That turned out to be true. When Aroldis Chapman came in for the save opportunity, you knew it would be, "Good morning, good afternoon and good night," and it was; Chapman struck out the side on just 14 pitches, hitting 102 miles per hour on at least one (according to the Wrigley pitch speed meter). Starlin Castro looked particularly helpless as he struck out to end the game.

It rained -- hard -- for about 15 minutes not long after the gates opened, forcing the grounds crew to take down all the batting-practice cages and cover the field, but then it cleared up and became a pleasant summer evening, except for the result. The Cubs are 1-7 against the Reds at Wrigley Field this year and 23-34 overall at home (while nearly .500, 29-32, on the road). If you have an answer for that anomaly, please let Theo, Jed and Dale know.

You probably also heard Monday night that this is the first time since 1924 that the Cubs have been shut out in three straight home games (this year, it was the last two of the previous homestand, by the Dodgers, and Monday). This set me out to search for two things: had this happened previous to 1924? And had they ever been shut out four straight times at home?

Answer to the first question, yes -- twice in 1917. The 1924 Cubs were a good team that finished over .500; 1917's version, in the peak of the deadball era, finished six games under .500 and got shut out 17 times (while throwing 16 shutouts of their own).

Answer to the second question, no -- never. Not once has a Cubs team been shut out in four consecutive home games. Thus, the hope that the team can hit (and score off of) Homer Bailey tonight in the second game of the series. Jeff Samardzija goes for the Cubs.

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