For five innings, this was a good, close, competitive game, even though the Cubs kept stranding baserunners.
Then in the sixth, the bullpen (well, Erich Uelmen, specifically) completely fell apart, the Reds scored four runs, and from there they coasted to a 7-1 win over the Cubs.
The Cubs scored first, in the second inning. Nelson Velázquez and Yan Gomes led off with singles, and P.J. Higgins also singled for a 1-0 Cubs lead [VIDEO].
I could stop now, because it’s all downhill from here. But you come here for game recaps, so I shall give you one.
The Reds tied the game in the third on a long home run by Aristides Aquino that wound up in the gangway between two buildings on Waveland.
Who got the ball? Of course, it was Ballhawk Dave!
Reds Aristides Aquino with a 440ft bomb to Waveland Avenue. His 6th season and 37th career. One hop between rooftop buildings. Not to old to climb fences!! ;) #cubs #reds #wrigley #cubswin #needkey pic.twitter.com/ws5fzbWY3m— BALLHAWK.NET (@Super_Dave) September 8, 2022
I saw him after the game on my way to my car. He ripped his shorts going after that baseball.
Anyway, back to baseball. Kyle Farmer also homered for Cincinnati in the fourth inning, giving the Reds a 2-1 lead.
The Cubs had no shortage of baserunners. After Higgins’ RBI hit in the second, putting runners on first and third with nobody out, Nick Madrigal hit into a double play. The Cubs also hit into a double play (Velázquez) in the fourth, and even after two more singles in that inning, couldn’t score again.
It all fell apart in the sixth. Javier Assad gave up two singles with one out and was removed. Assad didn’t pitch badly, but both those runners scored when Erich Uelmen had a disaster of an outing: Walk, single, single, then he too was removed. Michael Rucker relieved Uelmen and gave up an RBI single to complete the scoring for the Reds in that inning, but that gave them a 6-1 lead which was more than enough. They added another home run off Jeremiah Estrada in the ninth to complete their scoring.
Meanwhile, the Cubs had three more singles in the sixth without scoring, because of yet another double play (Nico Hoerner hit into this one). In all, the Cubs put 12 hits on the board, all but one of them singles, and went 1-for-10 with RISP. That, and Uelmen’s rough outing, were the story of the game.
Assad, I thought, threw very well. His line doesn’t reflect that, but again, two of the runs charged to him scored after he left the game. Assad first came to the major leagues because the Cubs needed an extra starter for last month’s doubleheader against the Cardinals, but has now thrown well enough to be put in the mix for next year’s rotation. He’s Rule 5 eligible this December, so he’ll have to be kept on the 40-man roster or the Cubs risk losing him. That’s all part of a number of difficult 40-man decisions the team has:
Jed Hoyer, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, has called it one of those “good problems” that a team encounters. Chicago currently has a long list of players — including some high-profile prospects — who will need to be placed on the 40-man roster this winter for Rule 5 Draft protection.
“We’re trying to figure out our roster, which is a bit more complicated than usual,” Hoyer said. “We have had a lot of discussions about the 40-man for the last few weeks, how we’re going to play it.”
Repeat after me: As always, we await developments.
There are a couple of other things from this game worth noting.
Here’s a nice defensive play by Assad that ended the fifth inning [VIDEO].
Yan Gomes wound up going 4-for-4, which was a career first:
Cubs catcher Yan Gomes is 4-for-4 tonight. It's the fourth time in his career he's had at least four hits, but the first game he did so while not also recording an out.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 8, 2022
So that’s good, anyway. One final note: The last time before Wednesday that the Cubs had 12 hits but scored only once in a nine-inning game was June 16, 2003, a 5-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Toronto, and the last time they did that at Wrigley Field was April 19, 1964, an 8-1 loss to the Phillies.
That’s about all that’s worth talking about in this one, so let’s move on to the series finale, which will take place Thursday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. CT. Adrian Sampson will start for the Cubs and Luis Cessa will go for Cincinnati. TV coverage for this one is on YouTube. This BCB article from last May, when a Cubs/Pirates game was featured on YouTube, will tell you how to watch today’s game. (It’s free, no signup or account necessary.)