Where have these runs been all week?
The Cubs scored more runs in the eighth inning Sunday in Cincinnati — seven — than they had scored in any full game over the previous six, and that stood up for a 12-5 win over the Reds and a split of their four-game series.
This game did not start out this way. The Cubs scored bunches of runs early, but Jameson Taillon gave up equal bunches. That isn’t good, and before I get to the review of this game I’m gonna say this, let the proverbial chips fall where they may. Presuming the Cubs do make the postseason, I’m not letting Taillon anywhere near a playoff roster. To me, right now, the top three Cubs starters are Justin Steele, Javier Assad and Kyle Hendricks, and those are the three guys I’d have starting in a wild card series. And — depending on how things go the rest of the year — I just might give Jordan Wicks the fourth starting slot in a postseason series.
There, I said it.
Now, let’s review this game.
In the top of the first, Mike Tauchman singled and one out later, Ian Happ singled him to third. Cody Bellinger’s single made it 1-0 Cubs [VIDEO].
Bellinger is such a good hitter — just look at that bat control. Sign him, Jed.
Taillon did not hold the lead very long. TJ Friedl and Spencer Steer hit back-to-back homers off him in the bottom of the first and the Reds led 2-1.
But the Cubs took the lead right back in the top of the second. With one out, Nick Madrigal doubled (and didn’t miss a home run by much, that ball went 392 feet). Miguel Amaya followed with a walk, and Tauchman’s single tied the game [VIDEO].
Amaya took third on that play and Nico Hoerner walked, loading the bases with one out. A sac fly by Happ gave the Cubs the lead [VIDEO].
The Cubs might have scored more runs in that inning, but Tauchman tried to take third and was tagged out.
That lead lasted about five minutes. Taillon hit Will Benson to lead off the bottom of the second, Yes, I’m almost 400 words into this recap and we’re still in the second inning. Tyler Stephenson’s two-run homer made it 4-3 Reds.
And that’s where the game stayed until the sixth. The Cubs tied things up again at that time on this solo homer by Bellinger [VIDEO].
That was Bellinger’s third homer of the series and overall he went 7-for-16 (.438) for the four-game set with seven RBI. Bellinger might be the only Cub unhappy to not face the Reds again this year. In 10 games against them he hit .395/.447/.767 (17-for-43) with a double and five home runs.
So it’s 4-4 heading to the bottom of the sixth. Taillon had settled down, a bit. He did wind up striking out seven and didn’t walk anyone. But he was taken out with two out in the sixth and a runner on second and Daniel Palencia allowed an RBI single that gave the Reds the lead again, 5-4.
This lead would not last long, either. With two out in the seventh, Nico Hoerner doubled and Happ singled him in [VIDEO].
So, now the game is tied again, 5-5 heading to the eighth after Palencia recorded a 1-2-3 seventh.
Dansby Swanson led off the eighth with a single. Suzuki followed with another single, and Jeimer Candelario was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Madrigal gave the Cubs the lead with this two-run single [VIDEO].
Then Miles Mastrobuoni was sent up to bunt, to try to put a pair in scoring position with one out. He laid down a good bunt, but Reds pitcher Alexis Diaz made a bad throw and instead, the bases were re-loaded, still with nobody out.
Now it’s 9-5. Tauchman stole second, then Hoerner grounded out and Happ walked, loading the bases yet again.
Tauchman took third on that play, which was followed by yet another uncontested steal of second, this time by Happ.
Swanson, batting for the second time in the inning, doubled in both runners [VIDEO].
Fun fact about that inning from BCB’s JohnW53:
The seven runs by the Cubs in the eighth inning ended a streak of 59 innings in which they had not scored more than twice.
They had scored two runs in four innings, one run in 12 and none in 43.
Keegan Thompson was summoned to throw the eighth and, well, it wasn’t his best. The Reds scored a pair off him, including two doubles. Hopefully this was just a one-off, because the Cubs need Thompson to be good going forward.
Two runs in the eighth? Never you mind! The Cubs got those back plus one more in the ninth, beginning with a leadoff homer from Candelario [VIDEO].
Two outs later, Tauchman doubled, making this the first four-hit game of his MLB career. Hoerner singled, with the ball hitting Reds pitcher Brett Kennedy. After a brief delay, Happ doubled, scoring both runners [VIDEO].
An eight-run lead proved more than enough. Shane Greene made his Cubs debut, throwing the bottom of the ninth. He allowed a leadoff single, then retired the next three Reds in order. Here’s the final out [VIDEO].
The 15 runs equaled the total of Cubs runs over the previous six games combined. It was also the fourth time they had scored at least 12 (!) against the Reds this year, and even though they lost the season series to Cincinnati seven games to six, they outscored the Reds 98-75. And from BCB’s JohnW53:
Today’s game is the third this season in which the Cubs scored at least 10 runs immediately after scoring just one.
They have reached double digits in 28 of their 377 games after scoring one run since Opening Day of 2000.
And one more game note from JohnW53:
Seven Cubs made multiple hits, tying their season high. They did it on April 17, in a 10-1 romp at Oakland, and on July 18, in a 17-3 rout of the Nationals.
They had six on April 11, while outlasting the Mariners at home, 14-9, and on August 1, in the 20-9 pounding of the visiting Reds.
In none of those games did the six top hitters in order all have at least two hits, as happened in Sunday’s blowout.
This game has to be a big relief not only to you, the Cubs fan, but to the Cubs players, who were having tremendous trouble scoring runs all week. Hopefully, this sort of hitting is contagious and continues through the Giants series that begins Monday afternoon.
A few final words about Taillon: Perhaps he can be turned into a useful reliever in the postseason. He did strike out seven with no walks in this one, and has walked just four of 141 batters over his last six starts. But starting in the playoffs? No thank you.
Before the details on Monday’s game, here’s where the Cubs stand in the playoff races. With this win and the Phillies defeating the Brewers in Milwaukee Sunday, the Cubs continue to trail the Phillies for the top wild card spot by 2½ games. They gain a game in the division race and trail the Brewers by 3½ games, and lead the Reds by three games in both the division and wild card races. The Giants, who will be at Wrigley Monday, are just beginning their game against the Padres as this recap posts; the Cubs will be no worse than two games ahead of them and could be three ahead. Same with the Diamondbacks, who are also just getting started against the Orioles.
Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field, Justin Steele will start for the Cubs and Logan Webb will take the mound for the Giants. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and MLB Network outside the Cubs and Giants market territories).
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