Oh. You thought maybe I was going to get poetic about this game? Nope nope nope. not for this one, which got out of hand in a 40-minute seventh inning in which the Reds turned what might have been a manageable 4-0 deficit into a 12-0 Cincinnati lead and if the game had ended there, 12-0 for the 12th straight loss, maybe I would have written a poem. All things are being considered for recaps from now until October 3.
I do want to tell you that I thought Justin Steele’s second MLB start was a success, despite him having to leave after four innings (82 pitches, 51 strikes) and two runs allowed, both on a home run by Jonathan India, who’s making his case for NL Rookie of the Year.
Steele, unlike his first start at Wrigley last week, was bringing it with his fastball in this one, occasionally hitting 97 miles per hour. This is nice to see, since over the last few years where it seems like every team has three or four guys who can throw that hard, the Cubs have had a lot of soft-tossers.
Steele did get himself in trouble in almost every inning, but worked his way out of most of the jams. In the first, a single and walk put runners on first and second with one out, but he got Kyle Farmer on a fly ball and struck out Eugenio Suarez with a four-seamer at 95. Here is that nasty pitch:
Justin Steele, 95mph Paint. ️ pic.twitter.com/xmCMhz5JOX— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 17, 2021
In the second, Tyler Naquin walked and Tucker Barnhart hit a ball that ordinarily would have scored Naquin but it bounced over the fence, so Naquin had to hold at third.
That brought up Reds pitcher Wade Miley and Steele flashed some good defense [VIDEO].
That is just an outstanding defensive play and as Ryan Dempster said on the broadcast, that’s why they have pitcher fielding practice drills over and over and over during spring training. It paid off for Steele there, and he retired India to end that inning.
Steele threw a 1-2-3 third, then issued a leadoff walk in the fourth. Two outs later, India smashed his homer, and after Steele finished that inning David Ross batted for him in the fifth, which was the right thing to do.
That was a really encouraging outing. I know some here think Steele would fit better in the bullpen, but I think Steele has a good enough repertoire of pitches that he can start in this league. I’m a fan and I want him to succeed and be part of the 2022 rotation.
Michael Rucker came in to throw the fourth, and did something that drives me nuts. He struck out Joey Votto and Farmer to start the inning. This is good! But then... he walked Suarez. Suarez started the night with a .173 BA and .258 OBP and 142 strikeouts and how do you not just attack the zone on a guy like that?
Naturally, that was followed by another home run, this one by Aristides Aquino, to make it 4-0. Rucker wound up starting the seventh, allowed a bunch of baserunners, then Dan Winkler allowed another bunch of runners and most of them scored and you do not want to hear about all the carnage beyond that. One of the hits was Joey Votto’s 2,000th career hit, so there’s that.
Two more things I do want to say about all of that:
- If the Cubs have a bullpen game Wednesday, Rucker won’t be part of it as he threw 53 pitches Monday.
- Winkler should just be released.
The Cubs put some runs on the board in the eighth. They loaded the bases with nobody out, and you know what that means: The next two guys struck out.
The Cubs went down meekly in the ninth, though, to stay at five runs.
In the preview post for this game, BCBer mickkelleher posted, in response to a comment that the Reds’ Jesse Winker had been placed on the IL and wouldn’t play:
Great, so we’ll lose 13-5 instead of 16-5
That’s... pretty darn close. You win some BCB points, I’ll let the Deputy assign them.
The Cubs will try to avoid consecutive loss No. 13 Tuesday evening in Cincinnati. The Cubs franchise has lost 13 straight games in a single season just four times: 1944, 1982, 1985 and 1997 (in ‘97, 14 straight).
And yes, I’m saying there’s a chance they can indeed avoid that fate, with Kyle Hendricks starting. Vladimir Gutierrez is the scheduled starter for the Reds. Game time is again 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.