The Cincinnati Reds, facing Kyle Hendricks, drew a couple of walks and then started pounding the ball hard, scoring four runs off him in the first inning.
Wait... that's not what happened today. It's what happened in Hendricks' first major-league start, in this same ballpark, just a little over a year ago on July 10, 2014
You could forgive the notion of déjà vu, as Hendricks, instead of getting hit hard, got blooped and nibbled to pitching death in the first inning of the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader. There was really only one hard-hit ball -- a double by Eugenio Suarez -- but the Reds had a 4-0 lead before Hendricks recorded his first out. That was more than enough for the home team as they defeated the Cubs 9-1 in the first game of the split-admission doubleheader.
Hendricks actually did pretty well after that. He faced 22 hitters after those first five reached base and allowed just three more hits and one more run (a homer by Joey Votto), and struck out nine. It wasn't a great outing (five earned runs in six innings) but it was far from his worst.
The rest of the Cubs played like they had gone through a 13-inning game that ended at midnight.
Both teams did that Tuesday night, but only the Cubs seemed affected by it, seeming to sleepwalk through most of Wednesday's matinee. Kyle Schwarber, who's become most of the offense recently, singled in the Cubs' only run, in the third inning, after Addison Russell had doubled. It's nice to see Russell starting to hit, and Schwarber was 2-for-3 overall with a walk. The rest of the team? Nothing doing. No walks in this one after having drawn at least five in the other four games since the All-Star break. Chris Coghlan's two singles were the only other Cubs hits.
The biggest thing of interest in this one was a bogus "balk" called on Hendricks by first-base umpire Adam Hamari, who is in just his third season as a big-league umpire. You can see the play here (too soon after the game for an embed).
Hamari ruled that Anthony Rizzo, by starting to charge in for an expected bunt by Mike Leake, had "abandoned" holding Tucker Barnhart on the base, and thus when Hendricks threw over, that's a balk. As pointed out on the game telecast by JD, this is technically a rule -- but it never gets called, not on bunt plays, anyway. It seems like a young umpire decided he was going to make an important call and did it, and when he got called out on this non-reviewable call by Joe Maddon, he decided to make his stamp on the game by tossing Maddon.
In the end, the call didn't affect any scoring -- no runs scored in the inning -- and had little impact on the game other than sending Maddon into the clubhouse for the rest of the afternoon, where, given what was happening on the field, he might not have minded.
Yoervis Medina, called on to save the rest of the pen in the seventh, didn't. He got himself in trouble with hits and walks after retiring the first two hitters, walked in a run, then gave up a two-run single just out of Russell's reach to put the game entirely out of reach. Another hit resulted in... you've had enough of this, right? I know I have. I don't think "four-run inning" was what the brass had in mind when they recalled Medina for bullpen help.
Neil Ramirez gave up a couple of hits in the eighth but got out of it without giving up any runs. So there's that, anyway.
I had hoped the Cubs would take three of four in this series, but now they must win the nightcap just to split the four-game set.
Dallas Beeler will face Tony Cingrani in the nightcap, which begins at 5:10 p.m. CT. Incidentally, the original game on today's schedule was the day game, so the evening affair is officially the makeup game for the April 25 rainout. A game preview with lineups and pitcher information for Game 2 will post at 4 p.m. CT, and today's StoryStream with all the threads from today's game will also live on the front page. The First Pitch Thread (5:05 p.m. CT) and overflow threads for Game 2 will all be in that StoryStream.
Perhaps the Cubs will be rested up enough by then to hit.