But the baseball schedule does not wait for transactions, and so the Cubs continued play Monday evening. If that sounds like strange wording, I don’t have many good things to say about the Cubs’ 6-3 loss to the Reds, which was marred by sloppy defense and questionable managerial decisions after six pretty good innings.
Kyle Hendricks allowed a two-out homer to Eugenio Suarez in the first inning, then settled down and allowed no further runs through the fifth.
Meanwhile, Luis Castillo was showing off the form that got him an All-Star selection this year. He allowed a single in the second and another in the third; after the latter, Hendricks hit into a double play.
That gave Schwarber three straight years with 20 or more home runs.
The Cubs took the lead in the fourth. Kris Bryant walked and Anthony Rizzo doubled down the left-field line, putting KB on third. A groundout by Jason Heyward made it 2-1 and put Rizzo on third. Then Castillo gave the Cubs a gift [VIDEO].
In the sixth, Hendricks served up another home-run ball, this one to Yasiel Puig. Puig got loudly booed every time he came to bat, likely because of the little kerfuffle he had with Pedro Strop the last time the Cubs were in Cincinnati.
The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the last of the sixth, but David Bote and pinch-hitter Robel Garcia struck out to end the inning. Even so, it’s 3-2 heading to the seventh, and the Cubs pen has been quite good lately, and...
On this night, not so much. Steve Cishek’s first pitch to Curt Casali was deposited into the left-field bleachers, tying the game. Cishek then allowed a pinch-single to Jesse Winker. The next hitter, Nick Senzel, hit a sharp ground ball to Javier Baez [VIDEO].
That’s not an easy play with that short hop, but Javy makes that play 99 times out of 100. That could have been a double-play ball. Instead, there are runners on first and second. Joey Votto flied to left for the first out of the inning. Suarez then hit a ground ball to Bote that could, again, have been a double-play ball, but Bote booted it. A run scored to make it 4-3 Reds. Finally, Cishek got the DP ball he was looking for, from Puig, and the inning ended.
At 4-3 the Cubs appeared to still have a chance. But then... here’s where I don’t understand Joe Maddon’s thinking. During the seventh, he had Randy Rosario and Strop warming up. Rosario entered and allowed a leadoff single to Derek Dietrich and wild-pitched him to second before retiring Scooter Gennett.
Where’s Pedro? Well... not in the game, because Joe got Brad Brach up instead. Brach entered, got another out on a popup but then gave up RBI hits to Kyle Farmer and Michael Lorenzen, and that gave the Reds a three-run lead. Farmer’s RBI double came after a catchable foul popup dropped between Rizzo and Victor Caratini. If that ball is caught, the inning ends at 4-3 and maybe things are different. And the Reds might have scored even more runs, but Heyward made an outstanding play on a sinking line drive to end the inning.
At this point Brach is the bullpen version of Daniel Descalso. Brach this month: three appearances, 2⅓ innings, seven hits, 3.429 (!) WHIP, 19.29 (!) ERA. I mean... just about anyone in the Cubs system can do that. Why not bring Dillon Maples back?
The Cubs had a chance to even things up in the last of the eighth. Addison Russell and Bote singled with one out, and Albert Almora Jr. was sent up to bat for Brach as Reds closer Raisel Iglesias entered the game. He smoked a baseball really hard — but right at Suarez at third base, who doubled Russell off second to end the inning.
Strop finally came into the game in the ninth and got through it with little difficulty, but the Cubs went 1-2-3 in the ninth and that was that.
The Brewers lost for the eighth time in their last 10 games and remained 2½ games behind the Cubs, dropping into third place in the N.L. Central. The Cardinals moved into second place with a win, so the Cubs’ lead in the division is two games.
Games like this happen; that doesn’t make them any less frustrating. Fortunately, there’s a chance to make up for that right away Tuesday evening. Alec Mills will be recalled from Triple-A Iowa to start for the Cubs and Anthony DeSclafani goes for the Reds. Game time again is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via WGN.