You cannot say you were not entertained during Saturday afternoon’s 6-0 Cubs win over the Reds.
We had home runs! We had outstanding starting pitching from Jose Quintana! We had good relief work! And, we had a bench-clearing incident to wrap up the day’s events.
Let’s start at the beginning. The Cubs didn’t score in the first inning and while Quintana got through the bottom of the frame scoreless, he gave up some hard-hit outs.
Jason Heyward hit a ball very hard in the second [VIDEO].
Check out the height on that one:
J-Hey’s 13th matches the total he had with the Cardinals in 2015. He won’t win N.L. Player of the Month for June because Christian Yelich is hitting out of his mind this month, but with one game to go in the month he is hitting .326/.367/.565 (30-for-92) with five doubles, a triple, five home runs, 14 RBI and 15 runs scored. Oh, and in that first inning he made this outstanding catch [VIDEO].
Quintana and Reds starter Luis Castillo then matched zeroes through the sixth. Q was excellent in this one, a real turnaround from his last outing, and just when the Cubs needed it most. He left for a pinch-hitter having allowed six hits and no walks over six shutout innings, with four strikeouts.
The Cubs threatened by loading the bases with nobody out in the fifth, but Castillo got out of it by striking out Q and getting Kyle Schwarber to hit into a double play. Castillo allowed just the one run through seven innings, just three hits and three walks, and struck out six. He’s turned into one of the toughest starters in the National League.
Steve Cishek replaced Q for the seventh. This was a bit of a surprise, as it meant he was in his third consecutive game. Brandon Kintzler, who did not throw Friday, might have been a better choice (and now Kintzler is well rested for Sunday if needed). But Cishek got out of his inning scoreless after hitting Derek Dietrich with a pitch with one out, thanks to yet another great defensive play by Heyward [VIDEO].
Heyward has been one of the Cubs’ best players almost all year. He started strong, had a brief slump, and has been great all month. Hope it lasts all season. Here’s how good that play was:
Runner on first, one out in 7th, Cubs up 1-0, Casali flares pitch from Cishek to shallow right. Heyward chases it down, making the running grab on a play with 55% catch probability, per Statcast.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 29, 2019
Makes quick throw to first, doubles off Dietrich for inning-ending double play.
In the eighth, David Bote hit for Cishek and singled. He went to third on a double by Kris Bryant and then Anthony Rizzo walked to load the bases.
Fun fact time!
5+ Grand Slams in #Cubs history— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 29, 2019
12 Ernie Banks
8 Bill Nicholson
8 Sammy Sosa
8 Billy Williams
6 Derrek Lee
6 Aramis Ramírez
5 JAVIER BÁEZ
5 Jody Davis
5 Gabby Hartnett
5 Andy Pafko
5 Ryne Sandberg
5 Ron Santo
Javier Báez home runs by inning this season— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 29, 2019
8th: 7 (including today)
So if you want to see a Javy homer, the eighth inning is the one to watch. Also, it was his 20th of the season:
Date of Javier Báez's 20th home run:— Tim Stebbins (@tim_stebbins) June 29, 2019
Aug. 18, 2017
July 27, 2018
June 29, 2019
A 40-homer season, perhaps? The only Cubs shortstop to have one is Ernie Banks, who had five. In fact, only two other shortstops besides Banks have ever had a 40-homer season: Rico Petrocelli of the Red Sox (43 in 1969) and Alex Rodriguez (six straight years from 1998-2003). Nice company, Javy.
So now the Cubs have a comfortable lead at 5-0 and Pedro Strop entered to throw the last of the eighth. He got the first two outs quickly, then Eugenio Suarez doubled. The next hitter was Yasiel Puig [VIDEO].
You’ll note that video is from the Reds broadcast, and immediately you head “I think he hit him on purpose.” Now why would Pedro do that, up five runs with two out in the eighth? This screenshot says it all, I think:
You know, Puig is actually a fun player to watch, when he sticks to baseball. He should have just taken his base. As usual, players milled around and no one was hurt or ejected. Kudos to Rizzo and Willson Contreras, who held Puig back from charging at Strop. Warnings were issued. Pretty strong words from Pedro after the game, though:
Pedro Strop was confused as to why Yasiel Puig got angry:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 29, 2019
“It’s no secret, he’s stupid. He’s stupid as (expletive). Nothing against him, he’s just stupid.”
The Cubs added a run in the ninth when Addison Russell singled and took second on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, followed by a double by Schwarber. Dillon Maples, just recalled, threw the last of the ninth and hit Jose Peraza, which brought Reds manager David Bell out of the dugout, likely just to defend his players. We talked about this a while back — ejections aren’t mandatory after warnings are issued, and it sure didn’t look like Maples was throwing at Peraza. Here’s a guy with command issues with a six-run lead and two out in the ninth. Why would you throw at someone then?
Anyway, Maples struck out Curt Casali and the Cubs had their win, and actually, that was a really nice inning thrown by Maples, seven strikes in nine pitches. I’m hoping he sticks around for a while.
The Cubs thus will maintain at least a one-game lead in the N.L. Central, as the Pirates and Brewers are underway right now. If the Pirates win (and they are hot at the moment), the lead will increase to two games. This was a satisfying win and let’s hope the offense keeps it up.
Sunday, the Cubs will go for the series win with Jon Lester on the mound. The Reds will counter with Anthony DeSclafani. Game time is 12:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago (and also on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Reds market territories). Site note: Sunday’s game preview will post at 10:30 a.m. CT.