Saturday afternoon’s 11-2 Cubs loss to the Reds was, without question, the worst, most dispiriting defeat of the season so far.
I’m a little bit sanguine about this one. These things are going to happen even to the best of teams. Remember the 2016 Cubs, the 103-win World Series champions? They lost 15 of 20 at one point in June and early July, and during that stretch got swept by the Mets and were outscored 34-11 in that series. Last year the Cubs got swept by the awful Padres and scored only five runs in three games, and later on in the season lost two of three to the 96-loss Phillies, who were on a run winning nine of 12.
It happens. Good teams get defeated by bad teams all the time, and the bad team makes itself look good and the good team looks like it doesn’t even belong.
That’s what this one was, and the Cubs will recover from this. They’re too good not to.
The game might have been held in check when Luke Farrell had to leave at what I presume was a pitch limit of about 50. It was 2-1 Reds in the third, and there were two out and only one runner was on base. All Brian Duensing had to do was retire one more hitter...
... but Duensing was awful, the first five hitters against him all reached base, culminated by a grand slam by Reds pitcher Anthony DeSclafani.
Know how long it had been since a pitcher had hit a slam against the Cubs?
2 grand slams allowed by #Cubs this season. Both in last 3 days vs Reds.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 23, 2018
Anthony DeSclafani is first pitcher to hit a grand slam vs Cubs since Denny Neagle 6/27/1995
And if you think that’s a long time...
DeSclafani's first career grand slam, the first by a Reds pitcher since Bob Purkey on 8/1/1959 vs Cubs.— Reds Media Relations (@RedsPR) June 23, 2018
Duensing, who had a 1.93 ERA as of June 2, has now allowed 12 earned runs in his last five outings covering 4⅔ innings. That, my friends, is an ERA of 23.14 for those five games, with two homers allowed, and his season ERA is now 6.17. Yikes, again. Methinks Mr. Duensing might benefit from a disabled list stint.
There are a handful of Cubs things worth looking at from this game, so let’s do that.
First, Tommy La Stella showed some Javy-like defense [VIDEO].
That was in the bottom of the first inning when it was just 2-0 Reds.
Willson Contreras made it 2-1 in the top of the second with his fifth homer of the year [VIDEO].
That was Willson’s first home run since May 12 against the White Sox, so he’d played 32 games between home runs. Hopefully this will get him going; the Cubs need someone, anyone to get going with some power.
After Billy Hamilton led off the sixth with a single off Rob Zastryzny and stole second base, Rob Z. left with an undisclosed injury:
Rob Zastryzny leaves the game due to injury in the 6th.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 23, 2018
We will update his condition when information is available. pic.twitter.com/xf4gflKMgY
I would expect a possible DL stint to begin Sunday, and with a DL stint a player just sent down doesn’t have to be down 10 days, so Justin Hancock could be recalled. We’ll find out in the morning, I’d think.
To save what’s left of a beleaguered bullpen, Chris Gimenez threw the eighth inning. He gave up a single and a walk, got a line drive out to left and then a strikeout:
Gimenez strikes out Tucker Barnhart, throwing 84 mph.— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) June 23, 2018
However, Joey Votto then put the exclamation point on the game for the Reds by smashing a three-run homer off a “fastball” measured at 67 miles per hour. Have your fun, Reds. It won’t last forever.
As of this writing, it’s still uncertain who will start the series finale Sunday, where the Cubs will try to salvage one game of this four-game set. Tyler Chatwood could go, if his wife doesn’t go into labor with their first child. If not, Mike Montgomery will likely start for the Cubs, also on normal rest — both Chatwood and Montgomery threw in the doubleheader Tuesday. Sal Romano will start for the Reds. Game time is 12:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage is via NBC Sports Chicago.