If you had told me, last offseason, that the Cubs would defeat the Reds 10-2 and in the game, Rafael Ortega would start in right field and hit a home run and Patrick Wisdom would play third base, I would have asked you, “Was the game at Mesa or Goodyear?”
This win, the Cubs’ sixth in a row, was in neither of those Arizona locations. Instead, the Cubs are going through guys who you’d never have thought would be on the big-league roster this year — and they’re producing.
Unfortunately, it appears the Cubs will be without David Bote for a while:
Separated left shoulder confirmed for David Bote, will continue to be evaluated in coming days.— Tony Andracki (@TonyAndracki23) May 29, 2021
That’s a big blow to the Cubs and to Bote, who was just starting to hit — he’d homered twice in his last three games entering Saturday afternoon’s action. He also made this slick defensive play in the first inning [VIDEO].
Let’s begin at the beginning of this busy contest, played on a sun-kissed (though chilly in the shade!) afternoon in front of the biggest crowd of the year so far, 24,275.
Zach Davies threw two efficient innings, helped out by a double play in the first (and Bote’s play), and then the Cubs offense got to work. Willson Contreras led off the bottom of the second with a single and Ortega, somewhat inexplicably, sacrificed him to second. Bote hit a ball that was... sort of fielded by Eugenio Suarez, who then threw it away, Contreras taking third.
Eric Sogard then beat out an infield grounder, scoring Willson [VIDEO].
Davies then laid down a perfect bunt [VIDEO].
Bote scored and Reds first baseman Alex Blandino inexplicably held the ball, allowing Davies to be safe. That’s all the Cubs got in the inning, and Davies threw two more good innings in the third and fourth, and in the bottom of the fourth, Bote was injured.
Ortega led off with a walk and Bote was hit by a pitch. Then Sogard hit a ground ball to first [VIDEO].
Bote’s slide, somehow, led to that separated shoulder. It also led to two outs, because the Reds challenged Bote’s slide — adding insult to injury! — and the ruling on the field was reversed on review.
The injury does not look good, as noted above, it’s a separated shoulder. That could keep Bote out of commission for several weeks. There are literally just two position players on the 40-man roster who aren’t either:
a) already on the active roster or
Those two are Christopher Morel, who is 21 years old and currently hitting .190 in Double-A, and Miguel Amaya. Neither would be a good replacement on the active roster. Perhaps Jason Heyward is ready to return soon. Otherwise the Cubs might have to scan the waiver wire. Bote’s injury could be serious enough to warrant a 60-day injured list placement, which would open up a spot for someone from the outside.
Anyway, back to the game.
Davies got through the fifth all right, but issued a leadoff walk in the sixth and in came Rex Brothers, who hadn’t thrown in 10 days. It showed; his control was way off, and he walked the first man he faced, After he struck out Nick Castellanos, Brothers issued another walk to load the bases, and Keegan Thompson entered to throw to Tyler Stephenson. Stephenson doubled in two runs, tying the game. That ended the Cubs’ bullpen streak of not allowing an earned run, unfortunately. It was a good run while it lasted.
Then the Cubs got to work getting the lead back, and they, too, relied on Reds pitching wildness. Starter Luis Castillo walked Ian Happ and Contreras and was removed for Amir Garrett, who got booed — loudly — upon entering. Ortega attempted to bunt and failed, but Garrett walked Wisdom, loading the bases, and then with the crowd on its feet and loud, he walked Sogard, forcing in a run [VIDEO].
I hope you can get a sense of how loud it was on that clip; Wrigley hasn’t rocked like that since late 2019. Felt and sounded great.
After pinch-hitter Nick Martini struck out, Joc Pederson — on the first ball put in play in the inning — singled in a pair of runs to make it 5-2 [VIDEO].
That also sent Sogard to third, where he scored on this single by Kris Bryant [VIDEO].
Ryan Tepera threw a 1-2-3 seventh and then the Cubs put another run on the board, courtesy of Ortega [VIDEO].
That was Ortega’s first as a Cub and first of any kind since the last day of the 2019 season, when he hit one for the Braves against the Mets.
Like Bote’s line-drive shot Friday, that ball was a laser beam that wasn’t affected by the wind:
#Reds 2 @ #Cubs 7 [B7-2o]:— Home Run Tracker (@DingerTracker) May 29, 2021
Rafael Ortega homers (1): fly ball to RF (solo)
Hit: 383ft, 107.7mph, 22°
Pitch: 95.1mph Four-Seam Fastball (RHP Ryan Hendrix, 2)
Brad Wieck threw a scoreless eighth and then the Cubs put the game far out of reach in the bottom of the inning. The first out was a routine fly to center (well, as routine as anything could be in the wind, which wasn’t as strong as Friday’s but still blowing in at a good clip). The Cubs then pounded out five straight singles off former Pirate Michael Feliz (you can see why Pittsburgh let him go) and scored three runs. The first was driven in by Javier Baez [VIDEO].
Two more came in on this single by Happ [VIDEO].
Dillon Maples, who like Brothers hadn’t pitched in a week and a half, entered to wrap things up in the ninth. He allowed a one-out single but nothing more; here’s the final out [VIDEO].
The win again put the Cubs in a first-place tie with the Cardinals, pending St. Louis’ late game (9:10 p.m. CT) vs. the Diamondbacks at Phoenix. The Cubs are now 18-9 at home, a pace for 54 home victories.
It’s all tempered somewhat by the injury to Bote. Hopefully, Anthony Rizzo can return to starting Sunday, and that would allow Bryant to move back to third base. But Jed Hoyer and his baseball management team will have to find someone, somewhere, to replace Bote on the active roster. I suppose if Bote is injured badly enough to go to the 60-day IL, the team could recall Sergio Alcantara from Triple-A Iowa. Bryant and Wisdom could cover third base — Alcantara doesn’t have much experience there, being primarily a shortstop/second baseman. As always, we await developments.
Meanwhile, the Cubs will go for their seventh straight win Sunday afternoon, and their second consecutive series sweep. Jake Arrieta will take the mound for the Cubs and Tyler Mahle will start for Cincinnati. Game time is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.