Cubs 6, Reds 4: The Mendy Project

Joe Robbins

The Cubs broke their six-game losing streak and hope for the future was on display during the game in Cincinnati.

First, before I get to the recap of this long game, congratulations to Anthony Rizzo!

Will post a separate article on that soon. Now, on to the game! ADDED NOTE! Forgot to give headline credit to BCBer vonde6! Thanks, and sorry for the omission.

Good things happened for rookie Arismendy Alcantara Thursday afternoon. After a third-inning walk and a failed sacrifice by Hendricks, Chris Coghlan doubled and Alcantara drove in the first run of the game, and of his career, with a sacrifice fly. Later, Alcantara got his first big-league hit, a double off the wall in left, which scored two runs. Here's the hit in GIF form, courtesy BCBer ubercubsfan:

Alcantara got a second hit, an infield grounder off Jonathan Broxton's glove and later scored on a single by Starlin Castro after advancing to third on a throwing error to tie the game in the eighth. Then he tripled with one out in the 10th. The Cubs loaded the bases but could not score. Here's Mendy's triple:

Mendy started the game-winning rally in the 12th with an infield single. completing a 4-for-5 day in his second big-league game. After Starlin Castro singled, Luis Valbuena tripled in both runs and nearly had an inside-the-park homer, but was thrown out at the plate. Alcantara's heading back to Triple-A Iowa after the game as Darwin Barney returns from paternity leave, but he'll be back. Count on it.

The Cubs won the game 6-4, snapping their six-game losing streak and salvaging the final game of the five-game series over the Reds.

A lot went on in this game, and I'll try to get to all of it. Much earlier, Alcantara's fellow rookie Kyle Hendricks, making his major-league debut Thursday afternoon, struggled early. After walking the first two hitters on nine pitches, not helped at all by plate umpire Mark Wegner who was definitely squeezing him, Hendricks gave up hits to Brayan Pena (double) and Ryan Ludwick (single), putting him in a 3-0 hole.

But after that he settled down, at one point retiring 16 of 19. Ludwick's homer was the only significant damage off Hendricks after the first inning before the bullpen took over. An eighth-inning error by Anthony Rizzo led to a two-out, bases-loaded jam that Pedro Strop ended with a strikeout.

After Aroldis Chapman retired the Cubs in the ninth -- buzzing several players' heads with 100+ mile-per-hour fastballs -- he made a dismissive wave toward the Cubs dugout. That emptied both benches, though it didn't escalate to brawl status. Chapman really shouldn't be doing that kind of thing. As JD said, it was Chapman's reaction rather than any pitches he threw that caused the issue, and the whole thing started by someone apparently saying something to Rizzo from the Reds dugout when he took the field for the bottom of the ninth.

Hendricks, after his early jitters (and really, umpires shouldn't squeeze rookies like that, and you might recall this New York Times article from earlier this week which suggests some of them do exactly that), really did well. He mixed up his pitches, had decent velocity when he needed it, and Rick Renteria left him in with two out in the sixth to face pinch-hitter Jay Bruce with two runners on. That was a good, solid test for Hendricks, and he struck Bruce out to end his outing with a flourish.

Now, you might say: six innings, four earned runs is an Edwin Jackson outing. And you'd be right. But I think you can see the difference between a shaky first inning and then shutting the opposition down, and the way Jackson does things. Hendricks seems likely to stick in the rotation for the rest of the year, and I see good things in his future.

Reds starter Homer Bailey had to leave the game after his motion stopped in the middle of a pitch to Castro in the sixth; watching the review of the sequence run by WGN later, it appeared that Bailey had hurt his knee on the previous pitch, and the knee injury was confirmed:

As Len & JD mentioned on the air, I'd guess the Reds might have given up a win or two in this series if they could have kept the three players injured during it (Bailey, Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips) healthy. Between losing those guys and Joey Votto, who went on the DL before the series even began, the Reds had to put a lineup on the field Thursday that resembled a spring-training split-squad lineup. The win makes the Cubs 4-9 against the Reds this year and 24-58 against them since 2010. Thankfully, the Cubs won't see the Reds again until the end of August.

The Braves invade Wrigley Field for a three-game series starting Friday that will comprise an entire homestand. Jake Arrieta will face Atlanta lefthander Alex Wood.

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