Adrian Sampson struggled through a 31-pitch first inning in which he walked a pair of Reds and the Cubs had an inning-ending double play overturned. (It was pretty obvious the “out” call at first base was wrong on that DP attempt, though.)
In the end, though, only one run scored in that inning and the Cubs went on to play long ball at the homer-friendly Great American Ball Park. Franmil Reyes, Ian Happ (who pretty much always homers in Cincinnati) and Willson Contreras went deep for the Cubs and they won their third straight, 7-2 over the Reds.
The Cubs couldn’t do anything against Graham Ashcraft for the first three innings of this one, and then in the fourth, Seiya Suzuki reached on a throwing error with one out.
Four pitches later, the Cubs had the lead [VIDEO].
Reyes’ 10th home run of the season was his first as a Cub. He went 2-for-4 on the evening and is 5-for-12 (.417) in the three games he’s played for the Cubs, a good beginning.
The Cubs increased their lead to 3-1 in the fifth. Nick Madrigal led off with a single and Contreras walked. Happ then singled Madrigal in [VIDEO].
The Reds closed to within 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, and with the bases loaded, nobody out and Sampson at 81 pitches, David Ross opted for Sean Newcomb.
Newcomb, who has struggled at times this year, was outstanding. He struck out the first three hitters he faced, Joey Votto, Donovan Solano and Mark Reynolds, and in the sixth, struck out two more, even while issuing a pair of walks. Of the eight hitters he faced, only one put the ball in play, Nick Senzel, who grounded out to end the sixth inning. During the broadcast Pat Hughes mentioned that Newcomb might be in the mix for starting in 2023, but I think he might work better as a multi-inning reliever. He’ll certainly get more chances to do that over the rest of this season.
In the seventh with one out, Madrigal walked and Contreras singled. That brought up Happ [VIDEO].
That three-run homer, which made the score 6-2 Cubs, was one of the weirder ones I’ve ever seen. At first, I thought Happ had swung and missed — look at the video above and the Gameday graphic below, the pitch was way out of the strike zone:
And it wasn’t hit very hard and didn’t go all that far:
But, far enough for three runs. Happ, who played his college ball at the University of Cincinnati, loves hitting in GABP. In 39 career games there: .336/.435/.794 (44-for-131) with 16 home runs, and in 79 career games vs. the Reds: .302/.410/.682 with 25 home runs. It should be noted that the Cubs have 10 games remaining against the Reds this year. That should help Happ’s final season numbers. Also, the homer gave the Cubs four players in double figures in home runs (Happ, Contreras, Christopher Morel and Patrick Wisdom).
One more Cubs run crossed the plate in the ninth, courtesy of Contreras [VIDEO].
That was good to see after Contreras’ scary rolled ankle Thursday in Dyersville, as well as this, uh, incident earlier in Saturday’s game:
A foul-ball bunt hit Contreras below the belt. Ross and athletic trainer PJ Mainville came out to check with him, and he's staying in.— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) August 13, 2022
It looked painful. No, I don’t have video, and if you didn’t see it live, trust me, you don’t want to.
‘‘I’ve known Willson for a long time,’’ Ross said, ‘‘and anybody that’s followed his career, watched him and knows the ins and outs of the everyday process, he’s one of the tougher guys that I’ve been around. His pain tolerance is pretty high.
‘‘His will to want to compete, even when he’s not 100%, to continue to go out there and represent his team, his country, his family, play for his guys, this organization, he wants to be out there.’’
Contreras supported Ross’ point when Nick Senzel, the Reds’ second batter, fouled off a bunt that struck Contreras below the belt in the first inning. Ross again went out to check on Contreras, but he continued as though nothing had happened.
Anyway, Brandon Hughes — who’s rapidly becoming a very good leverage reliever — and Erich Uelmen finished things up. Here’s the final out [VIDEO].
So, excellent work by Cubs relief pitchers (five innings, no runs, eight strikeouts) and three home runs brought the Cubs this win.
The Cubs have now won three straight series and are 13-8 since July 17. They’ll go for the series sweep Sunday afternoon at GABP. Keegan Thompson will start for the Cubs against Cincinnati’s Justin Dunn. Game time is 12:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. The game preview here will post at 11 a.m. CT.