Keegan Thompson deserved better.
Thompson and Luis Castillo were locked in a tight pitchers’ duel for five innings. The Reds broke through for two runs in the sixth, on a couple of doubles allowed by Thompson.
Thompson allowed a pair of hits to begin the seventh, and for some unfathomable reason, David Ross turned to Rowan Wick in a high-leverage situation. This, despite the fact that Wick has been hit hard lately.
Wick did strike out the first hitter he faced, but then served up a three-run homer to Jonathan India. That took away Thompson’s quality start (for whatever that flawed stat is worth) and provided the Reds’ margin of victory in a 5-3 Cubs defeat.
Wick’s last 14 appearances dating to May 26: 8.36 ERA (only one run was charged to him Tuesday evening), 2.000 WHIP, 1.031 (!) opponents’ OPS. Yikes, that’s awful. The Cubs are going to need a starter this weekend against the Red Sox, and I suspect Wick will at that point have some injury (“shoulder soreness” or “elbow soreness”) and hit the injured list.
There were a couple of good defensive plays during Thompson’s six-plus innings. In the fifth, Rafael Ortega made this sliding catch to end the inning [VIDEO].
In the sixth, after Thompson had allowed a leadoff single, he made this throw to second [VIDEO]. The play was ruled safe on the field, but overturned on review.
David Bote made a nice snag and stayed on the base long enough for the out. Unfortunately, Thompson then gave up the two doubles that gave the Reds a 2-0 lead. The Cubs loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning but could not score, and overall had another not-great game with RISP: 4-for-15.
After India’s home run made it 5-0, the Cubs did attempt a comeback in the botto of the seventh. Alfonso Rivas led off with a single and Bote was hit by a pitch.
Christopher Morel drove in the Cubs’ first run [VIDEO].
That play is a reminder that the Reds aren’t a good team either — two fielders let a catchable ball just drop.
Bote took third on the play and scored on this groundout [VIDEO].
Morel had advanced to third on that play and he scored on this infield single by Willson Contreras [VIDEO].
But that was all the Cubs could get. Mark Leiter Jr., whose presence in games has previously caused Cubs fans to cringe, threw two scoreless innings and struck out four, keeping the game close. In the ninth, Ortega doubled with one out, bringing the tying run to the plate, but Contreras hit a line drive right at Reds third baseman Brandon Drury and Ian Happ flied to left to end things.
Sigh. Perhaps tonight will be better.
One positive note for the Cubs: Nico Hoerner had three more hits. That accomplished this:
Nico Hoerner has recorded five straight multi-hit games. He's the first Cub to do so since Jon Jay (5, Sept. 20-24, 2017).— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 29, 2022
In those five games, Nico is 12-for-20 with a home run and only two strikeouts.
One more note: Castillo threw 123 pitches, the most anyone has thrown in any game involving the Cubs this year. Only two other MLB pitchers have thrown that many this year, and both were working on no-hitters (which eventually were broken up): Miles Mikolas and Tyler Anderson.
The teams will meet again at Wrigley Field Wednesday evening. Justin Steele will start for the Cubs and Hunter Greene will go for Cincinnati. Game time is again 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.