The Cubs had a helluva set of bookends to start this four-game weekend series in Cincinnati, belting two home runs in both the 1st and 9th innings. Unfortunately, they forgot to do much of anything in between en route to a 6-5 loss to the Reds and Tyler Mahle.
Mahle was impressive against the flailing Cubs offense, striking out 11 and giving up only the two solo home runs. Unfortunately, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks continued his struggles against the Queen City sluggers, giving up five earned runs on 10 hits, including bombs to Eugenio Suárez and the white-hot Jesse Winker.
As noted, the Cubs seemed to hit the snooze button after Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber homered to put the Cubs up 2-0. By the time they started to rev their engines again, it was a 6-2 ballgame in the 9th inning.
For a second straight game, they made a valiant attempt to come back, but you just had that sneaking suspicion it would come up one run short of a win. After Javy Báez tried on his golden sombrero with his fourth strikeout of the night, Schwarber singled off the glove of a leaping Jose Garcia and was immediately knocked in by a Willson Contreras bomb to centerfield.
Jason Heyward backed that up with a jack of his own to right, making things 6-5. Unfortunately, that would be as close as they’d get before the Reds summoned Raisel Iglesias to shut the door. And slam it closed he did, getting David Bote to fly out and Victor Caratini to ground out to end the game. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
They continue to strike out way too often and seemingly need their starting pitchers to be near-perfect to walk away with a win right now. Hendricks was not closer to his best in this one.
Letting Eugenio Suárez get going with a 2nd inning home run. He was hitting .167 entering tonight’s ballgame and was 3-for-3 Friday.
Stats That Matter
- Hendricks has a 9.58 ERA with three homers allowed in two games against the Reds. Against everyone else: 2.40 ERA and three homers allowed.
- After starting the season 13-3, the Cubs are now just 5-10 in their last 15 games.
- The Cubs have scored six runs in their last two 9th innings. Unfortunately, they came up a run short in both contests.
- Despite their 18-13 record, the Cubs have just a +2 run differential on the season.
- Cubs batters struck out 14 times tonight and Báez accounted for four of them. Ugh.
The offense needs to figure out how to create some urgency and score a bunch of runs before the 9th inning. Thankfully, there’s no time to cry over spilled milk after this one as they have to come back Saturday afternoon for a doubleheader and deal with Trevor Bauer.
Yu Darvish takes on Bauer in a Cy Young-caliber clash that will surely disappoint. The afternoon contest will be followed by the second game of the doubleheader in which Alec Mills has been named starter for the Cubs. He’ll face Tejay Antone for the Reds. First pitch is 3:10pm CT and will be followed by the second game 45 minutes after it ends. Both games can be seen on Marquee and MLB Network and heard on 670 The Score.