The scouting report on Travis Wood must have read, "Run on him."
Why do I say that? Because Billy Hamilton led off the game with a bunt that Wood couldn't quite field. Then Hamilton stole second, and scored on a Brandon Phillips single. Before you could even think, "The Reds are leading 1-0," the Reds were leading 3-0 when Jay Bruce homered off Wood, who labored through a 30-pitch first inning.
Hamilton later stole another base and Chris Heisey, whose career high in steals is six, also stole a base off Wood and catcher John Baker. The Cubs catchers have been particularly poor in throwing out runners this year, catching only 10 of 78 runners trying to steal (12.8 percent).
Give Wood credit. He settled down and kept his team in the game, giving up no more runs through the fifth inning. So when Chris Coghlan and Ryan Sweeney hit back-to-back homers off Johnny Cueto in the sixth to make it 3-2, there appeared to be a chance the Cubs could come back and win the game.
That's a rare feat, incidentally. In 10 starts and the first five innings of this one -- a total of 73⅓ innings -- Cueto had given up two home runs total. He'd only given up two homers in a game once this year, then two Cubs who had a total of two home runs combined this year (both by Coghlan) hit back-to-back jacks off him.
Wood, unfortunately, ran out of gas in the sixth inning and was touched up for another run and once you get to the Reds' late-inning relievers, you're pretty much out of luck. The first game of the doubleheader thus went to the Reds 4-2, with Aroldis Chapman posting his 18th save. Give Junior Lake credit -- after looking helpless against the first couple of pitches, 99+ from Chapman, he singled, his first hit in his last 21 at-bats. And Mike Olt, who you figure would have been strikeout fodder for Chapman, worked him for a walk.
It was the Cubs' fourth straight loss after a four-game winning streak. Of course, in between those streaks was the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade. While you can say that didn't affect the offense, nor the rotation thus far, there has to be some sort of psychological toll in the Cubs' clubhouse. Maybe it can't be measured, but I have to believe such a major trade has some sort of effect on the team.
And they've also been facing very good starting pitching, so I could be completely off base.
The second game of this split twinbill ought to be interesting. It'll have a pitcher making his major-league debut -- at age 33 -- for the Cubs, Japanese import Tsuyoshi Wada, and for the Reds, a 22-year-old rookie making his second big-league start, but first for the Reds. David Holmberg was acquired from the Diamondbacks in an offseason deal.
As noted by Len & JD on the day-game telecast, the three pitchers making the next three starts for the Cubs (Wada, Dallas Beeler and Kyle Hendricks) have a total of one major-league start going into Wednesday's game (that's Beeler's, from last week). That's the fewest across that span in Cubs history, and the fewest by any team since the 2002 Cardinals started Josh Pearce, Travis Smith and Mike Crudale, who also had a total of one start before that three-game sequence. None of those guys ever amounted to anything in the big leagues; let's hope at least one of Wada, Beeler or Hendricks does.
At 4 p.m. CT Tim Huwe will have Part 2 of the Cubs System Sonogram on vacation, and the game preview for Game 2 of this doubleheader will post at 5 p.m. CT. Heroes & Goats from both games will run tomorrow morning.