Maybe it was the home white jerseys hanging in the clubhouse. Maybe it was sitting their hottest hitter. Whatever the cause, the Cubs (63-52) decided to exorcise both their night and road demons in a big way in the Queen City on Thursday night, handing the Reds (54-59) a 12-5 beatdown in the process.
Neither starter was very good in this one, as Cole Hamels and Alex Wood each gave up five runs over just three innings. The Cubs won the battle of bullpens from that point on, scoring in bunches against the Reds while holding the home team scoreless over the remainder of the game.
Anthony Rizzo started things off by doubling in Kris Bryant on a ball that kicked around in the right field corner in the 1st inning. Reds rookie Aristides Aquino, seven games into his big league career, followed suit in the home half of the first, doubling in Eugenio Suárez.
After an unimpressive 2nd inning, both teams decided to try their hands at crooked numbers in the 3rd. The Cubs got four runs on hits from five different players, including a Nicholas Castellanos bomb to center, a Javy Báez double to left, and an Ian Happ single up the middle.
The Reds, not to be outdone early in the game, got a two-run bomb from Aquino, an RBI single from Kyle Farmer, and a gift run on a Jonathan Lucroy catcher’s interference with the bases loaded. Strangely, Lucroy committed two of those on the night, with Nick Senzel batting in both instances.
Castellanos hit another bomb in the 4th inning to make it 6-5 and Lucroy doubled in Happ in the 5th to make it 7-5 Cubs. He looks a lot like a guy who will help the Cubs down the stretch, and he’s certainly a fortuitous pickup by the front office after one game.
Happ hit a home run in the 7th inning with Albert Almora Jr. on base to make it 9-5 Cubs. Bryant put the game out of reach and demoralized Reds hurler David Hernandez with a flare to shallow left center that plated Jason Heyward and Castellanos.
The final run of the night came on yet another hit for Lucroy in his Cubs debut, plating Almora to end the scoring on the night at 12-5. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs Won
They hit lots of balls hard. They scored a lot of runs. They hung white jerseys in the clubhouse before the game.
Honestly, it had nothing to do with doubles or home runs or left-handed swings from Javy. It was Joey Votto‘s strikeout in the bottom of the 3rd. Hamels did not have good night and he didn’t even qualify for a win, but he did get a huge backwards K with the bases loaded to prevent the Reds from adding any more. As it turns out, the Reds didn’t score at all after that.
Stats that Matter
- Seven Cubs had multiple hits, leaving Heyward as the lone Cub starter to go hitless.
- That Castellanos trade seems to be working out alright for the Cubs. He was 3-for-4 with two bombs on the night and is now 14-for-33 since the deal.
- Plucked up out of the Angels’ dumpster like a stale cake, Lucroy promptly delivered a three-hit performance in his first game with the Cubs, knocking in two.
- Happ, the third player in the starting lineup not with the big league Cubs on July 25, continued his red hot hitting, going 2-5 with a broken bat bomb to right field. He is now 12-35 this season.
- Hamels put up a stinker, going only three innings and giving up eight hits and five runs.
- Lucky for him, Tyler Chatwood had his back buy going three innings and giving up only one hit while striking out six. Duane Underwood and Kyle Ryan held the Reds scoreless for the final three, no small feat given what happened early.
It’s just one game, but I’m pretty sure the white jerseys will be adorning the lockers in the visiting clubhouse yet again tomorrow night. Maybe the Cubs can continue their hot hitting and we’ll get to see Trevor Bauer launch a ball somewhere else in the ballpark after getting pulled tomorrow.
In a series filled with intriguing pitching matchups, Fridays’ game is sure to drum up some interest. Yu Darvish puts his spectacular second half to the test against the always interesting Bauer, making his second start for the Red since moving across Ohio from the Indians. Game time is 6:10pm CT and will be broadcast by NBC Sports Chicago and 670 The Score.