The Cubs offense has been firing on all cylinders recently as they scored 18 runs in the first two games at Great American Ballpark. But an old nemesis returned to put an end to the offensive explosion in final game of the series.
After missing the last two seasons with injuries, Bronson Arroyo is back pitching for the Reds. John Lackey starting for the Cubs meant a combined 254 years of pitching experience Sunday.
Billy Hamilton got things going for the Reds in the bottom of the 1st inning when he hit a soft fly ball that center fielder Jon Jay misread, allowing it to drop for a hit. Two stolen bases later the Cincinnati speedster was on third. Joey Votto hit a sacrifice fly to put the Redlegs ahead and Scott Schebler took Lackey deep in the 2nd to expand the lead to 2-0.
Arroyo was perfect the first time through the order on only 24 pitches. Kris Bryant finally singled in the 4th to end the perfecto, after which Anthony Rizzo ended the shutout with a two-run homer (his third straight game with a dinger) to tie the score.
The tie would be short-lived as a Schebler single put the Reds ahead 3-2 in the 4th. Lackey unraveled in the 6th, when an error, a walk, and a bunt single loaded the bases with none out. Left fielder Patrick Kivlehan promptly cleared the bases with a double. A Kris Bryant throwing error allowed Kivlehan to score and give the home team a 7-2 lead.
A Jason Heyward ground out scored Ben Zobrist in the 7th to make it a 7-3 game. The Cubs staged a brief #TeaseRally in the 9th inning, when Addison Russell and Heyward RBI singles cut the lead to 7-5 before the Reds closed out the win.
Stats That Matter
- In 32 career appearances against the Cubs, Bronson Arroyo was 13-11 with 3.06 ERA in 197 innings. Sunday was more of the same: 6 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 7 K on only 66 pitches. Honestly, with the way he was baffling the Cubs hitters, Arroyo could have thrown a complete game.
- John Lackey had a rough game to say the least. He did not get a lot of help from his defense, but the results weren’t good anyway: 6 IP, 7 R, 5 ER, 6 H, 7 K, and 2 BB. The back end of the Cubs’ rotation has struggled recently and it could turn into a problem if it persists.
- Anthony Rizzo loves playing at Great American Ballpark. Big Tony’s homer was the only offensive highlight against the Reds starter. Rizzo’s recent tear has gotten his average near the .300 mark.
It seems like Bronson Arroyo always has the Cubs’ number. With the Reds right hander’s, shall we say, “finesse stuff,” a loss like Sunday somehow feels worse. Still, the Northsiders won the series and are in first place. So it’s best to shake this game off as another case of Bronson Arroyo being more like Charles Bronson.
The Cubs travel to Pittsburgh to open up a three-game series with the Pirates Monday. Brett Anderson looks to rebound from a rough start against righty Chad Kuhl. The game starts at 6:05 CT and airs on WGN and ESPN nationally.