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Reds 6, Cubs 5: Déjà vu

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This game was distressingly familiar.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Didn’t we see this game Wednesday?

The Cubs take an early 2-0 lead, then the offense falters and their opponent starts hitting Cubs pitching, hard, taking a lead that does not require using a closer in the ninth inning.

Then the Cubs start hitting in the ninth, only to fall one run short.

You’re thinking I’m describing the Cubs’ 6-5 loss to the Reds Friday night, and that is absolutely correct, but those facts also accurately recount the details of the Cubs’ 7-6 loss to the Tigers in Detroit Wednesday. The only thing missing Friday was someone hitting a baseball 424 feet for an out. You probably now have the impression that this year’s Cubs aren’t any good playing one-run games, but they’re still 6-5 in those contests, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Well. You came here for a recap of this game, and so you shall have one.

The Cubs led 2-0 just 13 pitches into Friday night’s affair.

Two pitches in, Anthony Rizzo sent a ball into the Ohio night [VIDEO].

That baseball went a long way:

Eleven pitches later it was Kyle Schwarber’s turn to go deep [VIDEO].

A promising start, right? Not when the entire offense shuts down after that. The Cubs did not have another hit until the eighth inning, when Ian Happ singled with one out. He was quickly erased on a double play, and by then the Cubs were down 5-2. The only other baserunners the Cubs had between Schwarber’s home run and Happ’s hit were two walks drawn by Jason Heyward and Heyward reaching on an error. Heyward didn’t get past first base on any of those reaches.

This is not a good way to win a game, especially when it’s Kyle Hendricks pitching against the Reds. Why is that? He didn’t pitch that poorly, but he didn’t really pitch well, either. Five runs in six innings, and:

But wait, there’s more!

Hendricks at home: four starts, 27⅔ innings, 2.60 ERA, 0.795 WHIP
Hendricks on road: three starts, 16⅓ innings, 6.61 ERA, 1.592 WHIP

This happened last year, too, when Kyle posted a 2.04 ERA in 14 starts at Wrigley Field and a 5.02 ERA away from home. If you can figure out why this is happening, I am sure David Ross and the coaching staff would like to know. Hendricks will be in line for another start on this road trip, likely next Thursday in Pittsburgh, but maybe that should be skipped? I dunno, but they’ve got to figure this out and it’s more than just random noise. It’s bad enough that it’s starting to skew Kyle’s career numbers:

Hendricks at home, 2014-18: 2.74 ERA
Hendricks at home, 2019-20: 2.18 ERA

Hendricks on road, 2014-18: 3.47 ERA
Hendricks on road, 2019-20: 5.27 ERA

Kyle had a career road ERA of 3.47 before 2019, higher than his home ERA but not terrible. Now his career road ERA is 3.80, even as his career home ERA has gone down (2.74 before 2019, 2.61 now).

There has to be a reason this is happening, this is not a small sample size — we’re talking about 37 starts and 221 innings since the beginning of 2019, 22 percent of Kyle’s career for both numbers.

Let us know if you figure this out.

Back to the game: The eighth inning came along and Kyle Ryan gave up a run which didn’t seem all that important at the time. It made the score 6-2 instead of 5-2 and given what the Cubs offense was doing, they didn’t seem as if they could get anyone on base, much less overcome such a deficit. Incidentally, Ryan was very good and consistent in 2019, but this year he’s just been lousy.

Javier Baez struck out to lead off the ninth. Schwarber singled and Willson Contreras suddenly made the game a lot closer [VIDEO].

Heyward was the next hitter [VIDEO].

Well. Now it’s a one-run game with two outs to go and Reds closer Raisel Iglesias is in the game. Heyward since August 11: .351/.510/.730 (13-for-37) with four doubles, two triples and two home runs and he’s 4-for-9 this week with two doubles and a homer. If he has good games Saturday, he could be in the running for NL Player of the Week.

You could argue, and you’re probably right, that if the score’s 5-2 going to the ninth, Iglesias probably starts the ninth inning and the Cubs don’t score the runs off him they way they did off Robert Stephenson. But it’s still frustrating that the Cubs bullpen can’t keep games close. They’re going to have to address that soon, either by promoting guys from South Bend or making a trade or two before Monday’s deadline.

Anyway, Iglesias got David Bote to fly out and Victor Caratini to ground out and the Cubs had their third straight loss, a situation they’ll want to rectify in the doubleheader Saturday afternoon.

The Cubs managed to maintain a three-game lead in the NL Central when the Cardinals lost to the Indians. The Reds and Brewers are now tied, four games back.

Yu Darvish will face Trevor Bauer in the first doubleheader game, and Alec Mills will face Tejay Antone in the nightcap. Game time for Game 1 is 3:10 p.m. CT; Game 2 will follow about 40 minutes after the first one ends. A reminder that these games are both set to be seven innings. TV coverage Saturday is on Marquee Sports Network. The games can also be seen on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Reds market territories — MLBN will be picking up the Reds broadcast. The doubleheader preview will post here at 1 p.m. CT.