The Cubs’ 5-1 loss to the Reds Sunday afternoon, a defeat that snapped their six-game winning streak, turned on two plays.
The first happened in the first inning. The Reds were already up 1-0 with two out and runners on first and second.
KB fumbled the ball, but recovered and flipped to Javier Báez covering second base. Tyler Stephenson was called out on the field, but the Reds challenged and the call was overturned.
If that play had stood (and personally, I thought there wasn’t enough evidence to overturn), the inning is over with the Cubs down 1-0.
Instead, there are two out and the bases are loaded. It must have rattled Jake Arrieta, because on a 1-0 pitch he hit Tucker Barnhart, forcing in a run, and then Jonathan India hit Jake’s next pitch for an infield hit, scoring yet another.
Three pitches, two more runs, yikes.
Meanwhile, the Cubs did nothing at all with Tyler Mahle through four innings. He retired the first 12 Cubs he faced.
The second play, depicted at the top of this recap, happened with two out in the fourth. Eugenio Suarez had homered to make it 4-0, and then Jake walked Jesse Winker. He induced a double-play ball from Nick Castellanos, and then appeared to be out of the inning on a ground ball to third. But Patrick Wisdom overthrew KB at first and Stephenson was safe. Jake wild-pitched him to second and Tyler Naquin drove him in to make it 5-0.
Without those misplays? Well, maybe it’s only 2-0, or maybe Jake settles down and gets past the fourth inning.
The Cubs bullpen did an outstanding job of shutting down the Reds the rest of the way, after Arrieta was lifted following that RBI single by Naquin. Brad Wieck, Rex Brothers, Dillon Maples and Dan Winkler threw 5⅓ scoreless innings, allowing just three baserunners, on a single and two walks. Only one of them got past first base. This gave the Cubs at least a chance of getting back into the gam.
The nascent no-hitter was broken up by Willson Contreras, who singled in the fifth after a leadoff walk to Ian Happ. Mahle then struck out the side.
The Cubs finally broke through in the eighth. Wisdom singled, but was erased on a double play. P.J. Higgins then reached base for the first time in his MLB career on a walk. Joc Pederson advanced him to second and KB drove him in [VIDEO].
The Cubs now had the tying run on deck, so Tejay Antone was summoned by the Reds, He got Javy to ground to second, and retired the side 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the Reds had salvaged one game of the series.
Joe West, the umpire everyone loves to hate, broke Bill Klem’s record for games umpired last week. He’s retiring at the end of the season, and while it’s possible he still might be the plate umpire at Wrigley Field again before 2021 ends, he left the Cubs this game with a couple of lovely parting gifts — he called Eric Sogard out on strikes twice on pitches that were not strikes.
Third inning, pitch 8:
Fifth inning, pitch 6:
Thanks for nothing, Joe.
Fortunately for the Cubs, at this writing the Diamondbacks are blowing out the Cardinals. It’s 9-2 in the seventh inning, and unless there’s a huge D-backs meltdown, the Cubs will remain just half a game behind the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central.
The Cubs open a three-game series against the Padres at Wrigley Field Monday afternoon. Trevor Williams will start for the Cubs and Chris Paddack is the scheduled starter for San Diego. Game time for a Memorial Day matinee is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.