Joe Maddon got himself tossed from Tuesday's 9-5 Cubs loss to the Reds in the bottom of the second inning, and here's why:
Call hurts #Cubs— Cubs Strike Zone (@CubsUmp) July 5, 2016
Strike 1 should be ball 4
Bot 2 Finnegan vs Ross
12% call same
3.4in from edge pic.twitter.com/DwqtVoTfYQ
Pretty much everyone in the ballpark knew that was ball four to David Ross, except for plate umpire Jerry Meals. Was that a makeup call? Here's the previous pitch:
Call helps #Cubs— Cubs Strike Zone (@CubsUmp) July 5, 2016
Ball 3 should be strike 1
Bot 2 Finnegan vs Ross
18% call same
2.4in from edge pic.twitter.com/u4ZXB91ZkD
Well, yeah. That was a strike. Maddon had an animated argument with Meals, perhaps the most animated I've seen him as Cubs manager. It could have been calculated, to try to fire up the team:
By the time this all happened, the Cubs were already down 4-0, primarily because John Lackey lost command in the first inning after getting the first out on one pitch. He walked three straight hitters; in the middle of that sequence there was a passed ball and throwing error by Ross that allowed a run to score, and then a Brandon Phillips single scored a second run. It might have been more, except Willson Contreras threw out Jay Bruce [VIDEO] trying to take third base, a nicely-done play.
The Reds added two more in the second, and another in the third, but the Cubs came back with a three-homer third inning. Dingers by Javier Baez, Kris Bryant (his 25th) and Addison Russell made it 5-4:
The Reds' pitching staff has now allowed 150 homers. More on that:
That's a MLB leading 150th HR allowed by #reds in 2016. Record is 241 by '96 Tigers.— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) July 5, 2016
The Reds seem well on their way to breaking that mark, but the Cubs could take advantage only one more time, on a second homer by Russell in the fifth. But by that time, Lackey had allowed another run, so the Cubs still trailed by one, 6-5.
Lackey has struggled like this before, only to settle down. After he allowed the sixth run, he retired the last nine men he faced. That's good, although I have to say I don't care for Lackey's body language when things aren't going well. Maybe that's just a coping mechanism for him, but... he's going to have to do better in the second half.
Trailing 6-5 in the last of the sixth, the Cubs appeared primed for a rally. Ross laid down a gorgeous bunt leading off the inning, beat it out for a hit, and got a standing ovation. How often do you see any of those things? Then Jeimer Candelario, batting for Lackey, got hit by a pitch. About that Ross bunt:
David Ross with a top speed of 18.3 MPH on his bunt single... #Blazing https://t.co/LUjno5unAp— Daren Willman (@darenw) July 5, 2016
I simply do not understand why Baez, batting next, bunted in that situation. If he did it on his own, that was dumb. If he was ordered to do it, that was dumber. I realize Ross is not a fast runner on second base, but it's possible Baez could have homered again. Or lined one into the gap. The bunt was a bad idea, and Baez popped it up. That was followed by two easy outs to end the inning.
Give some credit to Raisel Iglesias, who threw three scoreless innings in relief for the Reds. Iglesias, who might have the best stuff on the Reds staff, was Cincinnati's Opening Day starter this year, but missed two months with a shoulder issue, and then returned as a reliever. I have to believe he'll take the place of one of the Reds' beleaguered starters soon. The Cubs got two runners on against him in the seventh on an Anthony Rizzo single and walk by Jason Heyward, but Miguel Montero, batting for Ross, popped up to end the threat.
Even at that, at 7-5 the Cubs might have had a shot at winning this game in the ninth. But Pedro Strop issued a walk and then Bruce deposited a ball into the left-field bleachers to make it 9-5, the third homer Pedro has allowed since June 1. The Cubs, obviously, need some relief help; they can't keep running Strop out there every time there's a situation like this. Joel Peralta actually threw a scoreless inning in this one, but I have to believe he might have made his final appearance for the Cubs, as someone's going to have to go off the 25-man roster when Adam Warren is activated to start Wednesday's game. The other potential choice would be to option Spencer Patton back to Triple-A Iowa.
Like the headline says: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The Cubs had their chances in this game, and had both hitting and pitching failures. They were 0-for-7 with RISP, and had the tying run on base in both the sixth and seventh inning, but could not get those runners past second base. That's going to have to improve. Again, I keep thinking that not having Dexter Fowler available is one of the key things hurting this offense. Hurry back, Dex.
The Cubs will have a shot at shaking off this frustrating loss and winning the series Wednesday afternoon, weather permitting. Adam Warren will make his first Cubs start, facing the Reds' Anthony DeSclafani.