The way the Cubs (82-69) have been playing lately, it just felt like a matter of time before they’d get the jump on the Reds (71-81). With St. Louis losing earlier, a win would have pulled the Cubs to within a game in the Central. Alas, Yu Darvish gave up three runs in the 1st inning and Sonny Gray cooled the red-hot bats of the Cubs as the Reds won the middle game of this set 4-2.
This game was basically decided in the top of the 1st inning as Darvish was ambushed by a single from Josh VanMeter, a double by Joey Votto, and yet another home run against the Cubs for Aristides Aquino to make things 3-0 before the Cubs could even get off the field.
When they did get a chance to grab some bats, it sure felt like they were going to respond the way they have in almost every game the past week. And respond they did as a walk from Nick Castellanos was followed up by a ringing double into the corner from Kyle Schwarber to pull the Cubs within two runs at 3-1.
After the rough start, Darvish settled in and struck out just about every Reds hitter he faced. That’s really not hyperbole either, as he set a Cubs record with eight strikeouts in a row en route to a 13 K performance over seven frames. That comes on the heels of a 14 K performance his last time out, so yeah, he’s pretty much dealing right now and he made one big mistake.
While Darvish was whiffing Reds, Gray was handling everyone in the Cubs lineup other than Castellanos and Schwarber. They teamed up again in the bottom of the 3rd when Schwarber knocked in Big Nick Energy with a triple into the corner to pull the Cubs within one run at 3-2.
There it would stay until the top of the 5th, when Eugenio Suárez knocked in Gray with a single to give the Reds another two-run cushion at 4-2.
Other than a Schwarber single in the 8th that brought him a home run shy of the cycle, there wasn’t a lot of drama on this night. It always felt like they were right there within striking distance and ready to explode, but they just couldn’t get the big hit or get much of anything going against Gray, Michael Lorenzen, or closer Rasiel Iglesias. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs Lost
This game was decided in the 1st inning when Aquino hit yet another bomb against Cubs pitching this season. The offense took a bit of a slumber tonight, but they had to take a night off at some point with the amount of runs they’re putting on the board nightly.
Aquino’s bomb was all the Reds would need and Darvish’s body language said it all after it was hit.
Stats That Matter
- Darvish was solid after the bad first inning, and now has 217 strikeouts on the year against just 56 walks. In the second half, he has 106 Ks and seven walks.
- Schwarber continues his hater-silencing second half with a 3-for-4 performance that saw him come just a home run shy of the cycle. Both RBI hits were clutch, coming with two outs and the Cubs down.
- After pummeling the Pirates and laying it on the Reds last night, the Cubs were just 5-for-32 on the night, pushing across just those two runs Schwarber knocked in.
The Cubs missed a golden opportunity to make up ground on St. Louis, who lost to the Nats, and they’re now tied with the nuclear Brewers.
The Cubs finish their season series against the Reds tomorrow as southpaw Jon Lester takes on righty Tyler Mahle at Wrigley Field. Game time is 7:05pm CT and will be televised on WGN with 670 The Score on the radio play-by-play.