After pounding the Cincinnati Reds all over Wrigley Field this past weekend — three wins with 16 runs and 23 hits recorded — the Cubs appear to have left their proverbial hitting shoes in Chicago.
They’ve had just five hits in two games against the very same Reds in Cincinnati, in a ballpark that’s generally known as a hitters’ paradise. Two of the three hits the Cubs recorded Tuesday night were home runs, but they weren’t enough and so the team went down to their second straight defeat, 3-2 to the Reds. The good news, if there is any, from that is that this is the first time the Cubs have lost consecutive games in more than two weeks, since they lost three in a row to the Rockies and Marlins September 17-19.
This game started out well. Javier Assad had perhaps his best start of the eight (nine overall appearances) he’s made for the Cubs after being called up in August. He threw 5⅓ shutout innings, allowed four singles and a walk, and struck out four. No guarantees for 2023, but Assad does appear ready to compete at the MLB level.
While all that was going on, the Cubs took a 1-0 lead on this home run by Willson Contreras in the fourth [VIDEO].
That was Contreras’ first home run since returning from his ankle sprain September 27. Contreras was also responsible for one of the Cubs’ other hits, a single in the eighth, and also walked.
In case you’ve been keeping track, that puts Willson two up on his brother William in home runs this year.
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the top of the seventh on another solo homer, this one by Nico Hoerner [VIDEO].
Interesting graphs here, showing that when Nico homers, the ball almost always goes to the same place (at least this year):
Nico Hoerner knows where his homers go. Here's a look at his nine on the year going into tonight. And then No. 10, launched to lead off the seventh. pic.twitter.com/GEuF3ekgGc— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) October 5, 2022
The lead didn’t last long. With two out in the eighth, Keegan Thompson walked Jose Barrero and Chuckie Robinson homered to tie the game 2-2.
The Cubs did have some traffic on the basepaths in the ninth. Franmil Reyes was hit by a pitch with one out, and Zach McKinstry ran for him. McKinstry stole second and third, but was stranded.
And so it was left to Brandon Hughes to try to preserve the tie and send the game into extras. Hughes has been pretty reliable this year, but this was not a good outing for him. He walked Stuart Fairchild on four pitches and then on the one pitch Hughes did throw in the strike zone, Spencer Steer doubled to right-center, scoring the winning run for Cincinnati.
We have reached Game 162, the end of the 2022 baseball season. The Cubs and Reds will wrap this year Wednesday afternoon at GABP, and hopefully the Cubs can end this year with a win. The pitching matchup will be the same as it was Friday at Wrigley Field: Adrian Sampson vs. Graham Ashcraft. Sampson threw quite well Friday and the Cubs won 6-1; here’s hoping for a similar outcome today. Game time is 3:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.