You didn't really expect the Cubs to sweep this series, did you?
I have to admit, that after the Cubs won the first two games of the set rather easily, that I kind of did. Jeff Samardzija had something to prove for the rest of the season by finishing strong... and came within one batter of at least having a "quality start", for whatever that somewhat-misleading term is worth. Instead of retiring pinch-hitter Jack Hannahan for the last out of the sixth inning, though, Shark served up a three-run homer to Hannahan that put the game out of reach.
That's Jack Hannahan, who had zero home runs in 128 at-bats this year prior to Wednesday's game, and who, in 61 previous career pinch-hit appearances, also had zero home runs.
Nice work, Shark. I still don't think he should be shut down; you'd hate to see him end his season on a down note like this one.
The Reds shut out the Cubs 6-0 and finished the season series with a 14-5 edge over the North Siders. Of the 14 losses, this was the fourth by shutout. You could tell that Dale Sveum gave up on the game when he inserted Logan Watkins to play the last couple of innings at second base. Watkins had not, before Wednesday, played in the field in three weeks, since he was inserted to play the last few innings of a similar blowout August 21 at Wrigley Field. The Cubs actually managed to come back and tie that game before losing 11-6; no similar luck today.
The Cubs managed just six hits off Mike Leake and four Reds relievers; Leake struggled almost as much as Samardzija did (107 pitches in 5⅔ innings) but, as usual, the Cubs failed to get any hits with RISP (0-for-4, with seven left on base).
Still, I had said before this road trip began that the Cubs might go 2-9, and they've already matched my expectation for wins. It won't get any easier heading to a four-game series in Pittsburgh, where the Pirates are 20 games over .500 (45-25).
Since there wasn't much to talk about regarding this dull game, I thought I'd insert some talk of the future into this recap. GM Jed Hoyer had these comments recently about Javier Baez's future:
"Listen, he’s really talented," general manager Jed Hoyer said. "I still think he has development left. We’re going to go into spring training with that mindset."
What do you think? Should Baez have a chance to make the major-league club out of spring training in 2014? Remember, he'll be getting some high-level playing time in the Arizona Fall League. Vote in the poll.
Meanwhile, the Royals beat the Indians to move to within 2½ games of the American League's second wild-card spot. They've gained eight games in the standings in the last 18 days. If the Red Sox beat the Rays tonight, that drops to two games. Say, dtpollitt, still have your Royals season tickets?
Finally, in Thursday's series opener against the Pirates, Chris Rusin will face Jeff Locke.