Hey, know what? Some of these sub Cubs can play baseball pretty well, and against a good team, too.
The Cubs began Tuesday 14 games behind the Reds and in free fall, on a 12-game skid.
But they got outstanding pitching from Kyle Hendricks and three relievers, and just enough offense from Ian Happ and Frank Schwindel to end that losing streak with a nicely-played 2-1 win.
Heck yes, yay, it felt good watching it and I’m sure it felt good to the players.
The Cubs broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third. With one out, Rafael Ortega walked and Schwindel ripped a double into the left-field corner [VIDEO].
Hendricks nursed that 1-0 lead into the sixth. He didn’t allow a hit until one out in the fifth, when Tyler Naquin singled. Kyle didn’t have his best stuff, as he issued three walks, but only allowed three hits.
Ian Happ gave the Cubs a two-run lead in the top of the sixth [VIDEO].
That homer was his 13th of the year, one of three hits he had on the night. I’m still kind of down on Happ, but he will certainly get more chances to show that he could be a part of a better 2022 Cubs team. Also:
Three-hit night for Ian Happ. First time since May 21st. #Cubs— Russell Dorsey (@Russ_Dorsey1) August 18, 2021
The Reds got that run back in the bottom of the sixth on Hendricks’ only real mistake, a home run ball served up to Nick Castellanos.
Kyle completed six innings and had two good starts this year in GABP (1.50 ERA, 0.917 WHIP), a place where he’s historically not done well, so there’s that.
Then it was up to the Cubs bullpen to hold the lead, because Cubs batters kept hitting into double plays, three of them overall on the night, and an inexplicable attempt to steal second by Andrew Romine in the ninth, thrown out easily by Reds pitcher Tony Santillan.
Rowan Wick, who I think eventually will get some closing opportunities, was the first man out of the pen. He got into a bit of trouble, with two singles and a hit batter loading the bases with one out. Wick struck out Jonathan India, but David Ross didn’t want to leave him in to face Cub-killer Joey Votto, so Ross summoned Adam Morgan. Morgan has actually been pretty good of late, and with the bases still loaded Morgan retired Votto on one pitch [VIDEO].
Codi Heuer retired the Reds on just eight pitches in the eighth, and I was hoping Ross would leave him in for a two-inning save. That’s exactly what happened, and Heuer rose to the occasion, retiring the Reds 1-2-3, all told getting six outs on just 17 pitches. Here’s the final out of the first Cubs win since August 4 [VIDEO].
That was Heuer’s first Cubs save (he had one last year with the White Sox). May there be many more such saves. And it produced the 14th win of the season for Hendricks, which leads the major leagues, bizarrely enough. Kyle should get six or seven more starts. Twenty wins, which I think is still a nice milestone for a pitcher even though individual pitcher wins don’t mean what they used to, could still happen.
That was a nicely-played baseball game by the Chicago Cubs, a pleasure to see after so much bad baseball the last two weeks.
Much was made about this pre-game:
The Chicago Tribune box score from the Chicago-Cleveland game on May 8, 1894. The last time (prior to Tuesday) that the Cubs franchise (known then as the Colts) had brothers in the starting lineup in the same game. Kid and Lew Camp.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 17, 2021
Via https://t.co/2scQdofEP0 pic.twitter.com/Q6XYYczZ6o
As you can see, the Cubs franchise (then informally known as “Colts,” as team nicknames really didn’t get formalized until the early 20th Century) lost that game 18-3 to Cleveland. Tuesday’s result was better. Fun fact:
The Cubs are 1-0 when David Ross starts both Romine brothers.— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) August 18, 2021
Dare I say this? The Chicago Cubs have a chance to win a series — on the road. That has not happened for this year’s team since right after the All-Star break, when they took two of three from the Diamondbacks in Arizona.
Now, do I think this will happen? No, I do not, especially with Triple-A Iowa callup Adrian Sampson scheduled to make his Cubs debut to start. Tyler Mahle will get the call for the Reds. Stranger things have happened, though. It’s an early start for the series finale, 11:35 a.m. CT. TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network and also on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Reds market territories. SITE NOTE: Because of the quick turnaround. today’s game preview will post about one hour before game time, at 10:30 a.m. CT.