I was really disappointed at the end of Tuesday’s 7-4 Cubs loss to the Reds.
Oh, not because the Cubs lost — we’ve surely seen enough of that this year — but because if David Bote had reached base with two out in the ninth, Javier Báez was on deck ready to pinch-hit for Jason Heyward.
That would have set up another matchup of Báez and Amir Garrett and, well, THAT would have been worth the price of admission.
Bote, though, grounded to short to end the game and we will all have to wait another day, or two, to see a possible Báez/Garrett rematch.
Now, back to the beginning of this loss for the details.
Adbert Alzolay got touched up for two home runs in the first inning, by Jesse Winker and Joey Votto.
But the Cubs came back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first. Rafael Ortega led off with a double, and one out later, Anthony Rizzo hit a ball off the ribbon board in right field [VIDEO].
Suddenly, with perhaps only a couple of days to go until he’s not a Cub anymore, Rizzo is a hot hitter. Over his last five games: .389/.500/.944 (7-for-18), a double, three home runs.
Unfortunately, Alzolay could not hold the score there. The Reds put one on the board in the second, and then Votto took him deep again in the third. Alzolay completed five innings before being removed for a pinch hitter and allowed four runs on six hits. He didn’t walk anyone and struck out four.
That isn’t a bad outing. But it isn’t really a good outing, either. It’s just kind of... there. And the Cubs need Alzolay to be better than that if he’s going to be a significant part of the 2022 rotation. In this game, Alzolay threw 15 changeups among his 81 pitches, 18.5 percent of his pitches, a significant increase over his season average of 4.5 percent prior to Tuesday’s game. He’s going to have to develop that pitch better to be a quality MLB starter, in my view.
Back to the game: The Cubs were being held scoreless by Vladimir Gutierrez and a couple of Reds relievers after the first, through the eighth. The Cubs did manage to get five runners past first base in those innings, mostly with two out, but could not score. That included Ortega being thrown out at the plate to end the third [VIDEO].
That’s probably not a good chance to take. Yes, Votto was off balance and facing away from the plate making that catch, but he is such a smart player and only about 200 feet from the plate. Oretga was an easy out.
Later, Eugenio Suarez homered off Dan Winkler’s first pitch in the sixth to give the Reds a 5-2 lead.
That lead was extended to 7-2 in the ninth. Kyle Ryan, recalled Tuesday, had thrown a 1-2-3 eighth, but got touched up for a pair of runs in the ninth. Honestly, I’ve seen enough of Ryan, who turns 30 in September, barely touches 90 with his fastball, and has a 4.23 ERA in 97 appearances for the Cubs since 2019.
Those two runs turned out to be important, because the Cubs put on a homer show in the ninth off Edgar Garcia.
Patrick Wisdom, No. 15 on the season [VIDEO].
Kris Bryant, No. 18 (and second in the last three days [VIDEO].
Now, in fairness, those homers possibly don’t happen if the Reds don’t score the two runs in the top of the inning. The Reds had Garrett warming up early in the top of the ninth, but when they scored those runs, he sat down and Garcia got up.
When Garrett did finally enter the game after Bryant’s blast, he got booed at Ryan Braun booing level — or maybe even a bit higher — even before his name was announced. He walked Rizzo, the first batter he faced, but then struck out Willson Contreras and got Bote to ground out to end the game, and that’s where we came in.
Two more days to possibly see Báez face Garrett again in this series. In the meantime, we turn our attention to trade watch, and I’ll have more to say about that later this morning.
In the meantime, here are the details for tonight’s third game of this four-game series against the Reds. Zach Davies will start for the Cubs and Tyler Mahle is the scheduled starter for Cincinnati. Game time is again 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.