So as it turns out, you could have turned off your TV or radio, and those of us at Wrigley Field could have left after the top of the first inning. In fact, we could have left after the third pitch of the game, which was launched by Todd Frazier just inside the foul pole onto Waveland Avenue for a home run that gave the Reds a 1-0 lead.
It sure looked like the Cubs checked out after that, because just one Cub reached second base in Wednesday's 5-0 loss to the Reds; the loss dropped the Cubs to a season-low 16 games under .500.
And that was with two out in the ninth inning, when, for some reason, Jonathan Broxton decided to not throw a strike to David DeJesus with a 2-2 count. Broxton hit DeJesus, who then took second base on defensive indifference.
That's about as exciting a play as I can describe to you from a Cubs standpoint. DeJesus produced the first Cubs hit of the afternoon, a bouncing single up the middle to lead off the fourth inning. Darnell McDonald's bouncer off Brandon Phillips' glove was the other Cubs hit off Bronson Arroyo. Alfredo Simon and Broxton finished off the two-hit shutout.
That's it. Done! Nothing else to see here, move along...
Oh, wait. There is actually more. Chris Rusin threw six pretty good innings, giving up just the homer to Frazier and another run in the fifth when Zack Cozart singled and Ryan Hanigan doubled him in when DeJesus couldn't make a diving catch on a sinking liner. (Nice effort by DDJ; he just couldn't quite get to it.) The inning ended when Arroyo popped up a bunt; Welington Castillo grabbed it and doubled Hanigan off second, a nice defensive play by Castillo.
Truth be told, I didn't understand why Rusin didn't bat for himself in the sixth; Rusin had thrown just 76 pitches and I think it would have been useful for both him and for the team to see if he could go longer. It's not like Starlin Castro, pinch-hitting with two out and no one on base, accomplished anything. Maybe Rusin could have thrown another inning, or two; he averaged less than 13 pitches per inning for the six he threw. In any case, it sure looks like Rusin is going to be in the mix for the rotation in 2014.
So is Jake Arrieta; it was announced Wednesday that Arrieta would be recalled to start Friday against the Cardinals and go into the rotation for the rest of the year, with Carlos Villanueva headed back to the bullpen. That's why Villanueva threw in relief in this game; he wasn't very good, allowing three runs on ... well, I'm not entirely sure how many hits. A ball knocked around by Cody Ransom was at first ruled an error, then later "H" was flashed on the scoreboard and the Reds' hit total increased. The WGN radio postgame show indicated Villanueva gave up five hits and all three runs off him were earned, which would only be the case if the error had been changed to a hit. But the boxscore linked above still shows Ransom with an error, at least at the time I'm writing this recap.
Given the complete lack of Cubs offense, that's about the most interesting thing to discuss about this game. There's this: can we agree that Cody Ransom's time is up? He struck out three times against Arroyo and Broxton and is now 4-for-48 since July 19. He's not part of the future of this team; why not bring up Mike Olt and see what he can do?
The weather was gorgeous: Sunshine, low humidity, a nice breeze. If not for the HBP and other frivolity in the ninth inning, the game would have been finished more quickly than Monday night's. As it was, two hours and 31 minutes is a refreshing change of pace from the usual slog of three-hour-plus games we've been subjected to this season.
Good riddance to the Reds; the Cubs have one more series in Cincinnati this year, where they've actually won two games this year (one more than they won against the Reds at Wrigley in 2013). The Cardinals will be in town Friday. Hey, there's a team the Cubs can actually beat (6-7 this year including a series win in St. Louis last weekend). There will be plenty here to talk about on the off day tomorrow.