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Reds 2, Cubs 1: Another bullpen meltdown and offensive failure

It ruined an outstanding outing from Javier Assad.

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

What I should have been writing this morning is a recap of a Cubs win led by a fantastic outing from Javier Assad.

Instead, because of another bullpen failure in Cincinnati, this recap is about a 2-1 Cubs loss to the Reds.

There really isn’t much more to be said, but let’s look at some of the important things from this game, the first of which is Assad’s start. He was dealing all the way through his 98-pitch, eight-inning outing, both career highs. He struck out seven; here they are [VIDEO].

Here’s a review of Assad’s start [VIDEO].

One other thing that went well in this game was Cubs defense, particularly from Nico Hoerner. Here’s a slick play by Nico in the second [VIDEO].

And another, in the sixth — this double play was fantastic [VIDEO].

Unlike Friday’s second game, where the Cubs had multiple chances to put distance between themselves and the Reds, in this one they had a runner in scoring position just twice: First, when Seiya Suzuki and Yan Gomes singled with two out in the fourth. Jeimer Candelario ended the inning by striking out, and again in the ninth, with a walk by Suzuki and Gomes reaching on an error. That inning, too, ended with no runs scoring.

The only Cubs run was on this solo homer by Candelario in the seventh [VIDEO].

In the ninth, David Ross chose to give closer Adbert Alzolay a break after his blown save Friday, calling on Mark Leiter Jr. Leiter was... not good. A leadoff double, walk and hit by pitch loaded the bases with nobody out. A single by Elly De La Cruz tied the game. Leiter retired former Cub Nick Martini on a fly to left, and Jose Cuas replaced Leiter.

Then this happened [VIDEO].

The Cubs almost turned a fantastic double play to send the game to extras... but they didn’t, and the Reds won in another walkoff.

The bullpen woes are worrisome. The lack of offense — the Cubs have scored just 15 runs in their last six games, splitting the six — is also worrisome, although the pitching staff as a whole has allowed also just 15 runs in the last six games, which is pretty good. It’s just that four of those runs have come at the worst possible time.

So I have a question. Would you have sent Assad out for the ninth? He was dealing, but he had reached a career high in pitches and innings and it was a hot, sticky evening in Cincinnati. Personally? I think I would have, with someone ready to take over in the event of trouble.

In any case, this loss was tough to take, but in the context of playoff races it again wasn’t the end of the world. Plenty of time remains. The Cubs are now 4½ games out of first place in the N.L. Central, but with the Phillies losing to the Brewers they remain in the second wild card spot, 2½ games back of Philadelphia. And, the Cubs lead the Diamondbacks, Reds and Giants by two full games in the wild card standings.

Sunday, the Cubs will look to salvage a split of the four-game series with the Reds. Jameson Taillon gets the start for the Cubs, and it’s time for him to step up, too. Brandon Williamson was supposed to start for Cincinnati, but the team had a COVID outbreak and he’s on the COVID list. Instead, a righthander named Carson Spiers will make his major-league debut and start for the Reds.

Game time today is early: 11:10 a.m. CT. TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. Due to the very early start, today’s game preview will post at 10 a.m. CT.


Would you have sent Javier Assad out to pitch the ninth inning?

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