The 2023 Cubs have been noted, among other things, as being a bit power-challenged. Through their first four games they had hit just four home runs (and by just three players, as Patrick Wisdom had hit two).
Tuesday night in Cincinnati, they proved that a team can put together a strong offense without hitting a baseball out of the yard. They hit no homers, but collected 16 hits and six walks, and that resulted in a 12-run uprising that routed the Reds 12-5.
The scoring began early, on a sacrifice fly by Trey Mancini in the first inning, scoring Nico Hoerner to make it 1-0 Cubs. Nice slide by Nico, incidentally [VIDEO].
But Hayden Wesneski, who had been so good late last year and in Spring Training, gave the run right back in the bottom of the first. Then Wesneski got touched up for solo homers by TJ Friedl and Jason Vosler in the third and fourth, and it was 3-1 Reds going into the sixth. Wesneski was not able to finish the fifth inning. Honestly, I suspect this was a one-off, and sometimes having to deal with adversity will help a pitcher get better in the long run.
With one out in the sixth, Patrick Wisdom doubled, one of two two-base hits he had on the evening. Eric Hosmer singled him in to make it 3-2 [VIDEO].
The Cubs blew the game open in the seventh. It began with a double by Hoerner and a walk drawn by Dansby Swanson. Ian Happ’s double tied the game [VIDEO].
Swanson took third on the double and Cody Bellinger then walked to load the bases. Trey Mancini’s single gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead [VIDEO].
The bases remained loaded, and Wisdom smacked a two-run single to make it 6-3 [VIDEO].
An error by usually sure-handed Reds second baseman Jonathan India on what could have been a double-play ball hit by Eric Hosmer re-loaded the bases, still with nobody out. Yan Gomes then did hit into a DP, but a run scored to make it 7-3 [VIDEO].
The final run of the inning scored on this single by Miles Mastrobuoni [VIDEO].
Six runs on five hits, three of which were singles, and the Cubs took advantage of a Reds miscue in the field — all good stuff here.
The Cubs put three more on the board in the eighth. Swanson walked, his third of the game. Happ and Bellinger singled to load the bases, and this fielder’s choice by Mancini made it 9-3 [VIDEO].
Wisdom went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBI — guess that pitch that hit him in the hand Monday didn’t affect him much.
The Cubs plated one final run in the ninth. Hoerner singled and stole second and scored on this single by Bellinger [VIDEO].
As for the bullpen, they did generally a nice job. Adbert Alzolay threw two-plus innings and allowed a two-run homer, but you could tell he was running out of gas at that point. Overall he threw 44 pitches (32 strikes) and struck out five. Maybe two innings is his limit, though, at least at this point of the season.
Julian Merryweather, who had a rough first outing, was given the ninth and allowed a leadoff single, but otherwise finished without incident. Here’s the final out [VIDEO].
The complaint department is definitely closed today. The Cubs went 10-for-21 (!) with RISP, taking advantage of nearly every opportunity to score runs. As I mentioned earlier, yes, this team might struggle to hit home runs at times. But they can still score in big numbers if they hit the way they did in this one.
Fun note from Ian Happ, who went 3-for-4 with two walks and two runs scored:
Happ: "My mom's always here. She always drive down. I'll give her credit. But I went to school here. I'm comfortable here. And, yeah, I've just been able to see it well for three years now. But it's all my mom." https://t.co/53oEkrkZwr— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 5, 2023
Lastly, a pitch clock related note from BCB’s JohnW53:
The last time the Cubs won a game by a score of 12-5 also was at Cincinnati, on August 8, 2019. That game had 30 total hits, five more than in Tuesday’s game. It had seven walks and 16 strikeouts, about the same as Tuesday’s 8 and 17. But it lasted 3 hours, 45 minutes, compared to 2:56 Tuesday.
The Cubs will go for the series win Wednesday in a game that starts early, at 11:35 a.m. CT. Opening Day starters are on tap for both teams: Marcus Stroman for the Cubs and Hunter Greene for the Reds. TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network, and in some areas on MLB Network (check local listings).
As this is an early start, please note: Today’s game preview will post at 10 a.m. CT.