Dallas Beeler wasn't quite as good Wednesday night as he had been in his first major-league start, 12 days ago.
That's not to say he pitched badly; a couple of seeing-eye singles and another hit that should have been a single but rolled past Justin Ruggiano for another Billy Hamilton triple did him in. Beeler also wasn't quite as sharp throwing strikes as he was against the Nationals, as he issued four walks while striking out none. Strikeouts aren't his game but he's got to throw them to have any chance of winning, and he didn't, and once again the Cubs didn't score off Reds pitching.
Result: a 4-1 loss to the Reds, the Cubs' sixth straight defeat. The loss also dropped the team to 38-52, 14 games under .500, which matches the season's worst deficit to the .500 mark. That's also three games worse than the team's record after 90 games in 2013 (41-49).
The team's record this year really doesn't matter; clearly, they're going to finish last in the N.L. Central. What matters is debuts of players like Beeler and Arismendy Alcantara, who made his major-league debut at second base Wednesday night in place of Darwin Barney, who will miss two games on paternity leave.
Alcantara went 0-for-4 and struck out twice at the plate. No shame in the K's, as the Cubs struck out 13 times in all. Alcantara did make a fine relay throw to nail Ramon Santiago at third after Santiago had doubled in the Reds' first run in the second inning. I assume Alcantara will get another start at second base Thursday, then head back to Iowa until September. Now that he's been in the big leagues, there's no reason not to have him on the roster come September 1, or earlier if there are deals made and roster space opened.
Anthony Rizzo tied the game with his 20th homer in the third inning, but that was about the extent of the Cubs' offense. They were 1-for-4 with RISP, but that's because they didn't really have many RISP in this game. They managed just three singles and a Ryan Sweeney double apart from Rizzo's homer. The homer put Rizzo just one behind Giancarlo Stanton for the National League lead, and it's my understanding that during the evening, the #VoteRizzo campaign had Rizzo overtaking Justin Morneau in the All-Star Final Vote. Voting continues until 3 p.m. CT today, and in addition to that link, you can also vote by tweeting with the hashtag #VoteRizzo between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. CT today.
And it figures, doesn't it? After a bullpen meltdown Tuesday night cost the Cubs the game, Justin Grimm and Wesley Wright put together three shutout innings in relief Wednesday, allowing just one Cincinnati hit, a single.
In addition to all of that, Rick Renteria got himself tossed for a major-league-leading fifth time for arguing a non-reviewable fair/foul call in the fifth inning. The Cubs thought Luis Valbuena fielded Devin Mesoraco's ground ball fair, but it was called foul. Mesoraco eventually grounded out anyway. And the Cubs lost a review challenge on a Starlin Castro grounder in the eighth. Here's the play (GIF courtesy BCBer ubercubsfan):
Personally, I thought Castro was safe, but apparently the reviewers didn't have enough evidence to overturn the "out" call on the field:
FWIW, that is from an official MLB Twitter feed which tweets out every result of every review after it's done, with links to video.
I'm not going to belabor this losing streak as there have been many factors, not the least of which has been tough opposition pitching that's held the Cubs to 12 total runs in the six losses (that after the Cubs scored 27 runs in winning the first four games of this trip). The loss also clinched a losing trip, but the Cubs can make it a 5-6 trip -- not terrible -- by winning the final game of this series, which will begin at 11:35 a.m. CT. Kyle Hendricks will make his major-league debut against the Reds' Homer Bailey. The game preview will post at 10:30 a.m. CT.
And I promise not to use "Oh, Mendy" too often as a headline. It doesn't even really fit, since "Mendy" Alcantara didn't do much of anything in his big-league debut. But I wanted to use it, so there it is.