During a two-week stretch last April the Reds and Cubs played seven times. If you bracket off a 13-5 Cincinnati win, the Cubs slaughtered the Reds 55-7. Not a typo. Not the Ohio State-Rutgers football score. The Reds began those two weeks 5-1 and finished 9-10. We know the misery that followed. The Cubs went on to win 35 more regular season games than the Reds, as well as the 2016 World Series.
Here’s a fond memory from those days: J.J. Hoover, Caleb Cotham, Jumbo Diaz, and Ross Ohlendorf were the strength of the Cincinnati bullpen. Someone named Drew Hayes pitched in two of those early games against the Cubs.
Those seven games did more than define the Reds season. They crystalized the difference between the two organizations. Last April, I wrote about the massacre and hard lessons the Cubs inflicted on the Reds. The post made the case for the Reds organization to put more value on hitting in general, plate discipline and power over speed.
Back to this season. Joe Maddon bats Kyle Schwarber first and Kris Bryant second. They’re projected to hit 61 homers, walk 135 times and have a .358 OBP. Meanwhile, Bryan Price stubbornly pencils in Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza at the top of the Reds lineup, two players projected for a combined 13 home runs, 62 walks and a .308 OBP. Right now it’s hard to imagine the Reds duo reaching any of those numbers.
A year ago tonight, the Reds lost 16-0 to the Chicago Cubs and were no-hit by Jake Arrieta. After the game, a friend from Chicago asked nicely if I’d send him my ticket. I did. A few weeks later, Kris Bryant went 5-for-5 against the Reds with three homers. A different friend wanted that ticket. I mailed it.
For a long while tonight it looked like the Reds were fit to push back. But one out from losing, the defending world champions punched the Reds in the gut. Two innings later they finished the job. At least it wasn’t Ohio State-Rutgers. I won’t be mailing off another ticket.
Tim Adleman did a superb job filling in for
Brandon Finnegan Rookie Davis Anthony DeSclafani Homer Bailey. He pitched 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits. Adleman walked 2 and struck out 7.
The new, fully operational bullpen appeared as though it would take care of the last three innings. Drew Storen got into a jam in the 7th, putting runners at second and third with no outs. But he proceeded to get a strikeout and induce Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant to pop-up. Michael Lorenzen was an out away from finishing off the Cubs before giving up a dramatic 3-run homer to Anthony Rizzo.
Wandy Peralta continued his outstanding season, retiring the Cubs in order in the 10th, including two strikeouts. Free pizza and rejoicing ensued. Peralta has K’d 45% of the batters he’s faced.
Robert Stephenson gave up a walk to the second batter he faced in the 11th inning. A hit and a sac fly later, the Cubs had scored the winning run.
The Reds scored all 5 runs off Cubs starter Jon Lester. The key blow came from an unlikely source as Adleman blasted a 2-run double in the 4th inning after Joe Maddon had intentionally walked Tucker Barnhart. Back-to-back doubles by Eugenio Suarez and Zack Cozart had put the Reds on the board.
Adam Duvall hit his 5th homer of the season, putting the Reds ahead 4-2. In was a shot down the right-field line. “Line-to-line power,” said Jeff Brantley. Behold its dimensions:
They say the great thing about baseball is you see something new and completely unexpected every night. The Reds fifth run falls into that category as it was scored by back-to-back walks to Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza. Although in this game, Peraza swung at a 2-0 pitch that almost hit his foot and a 2-1 pitch over his eyes.
The Reds flashed leather to get Adleman through the 6th. The newly shorn Peraza and Suarez made nice plays on ground balls. Peraza ranged far to his 1B side to keep a ball in the infield and made the play at first. Here is Suarez’ play.