The Cincinnati Reds (43-48) beat the Chicago Cubs (50-44) by a score of 6-3, Monday night at Wrigley Field. A little bit of everything came together in this latest Reds victory over the Cubs.
The seventh inning was where the fortunes of Cincinnati, who had been treading water to that point, changed for the better. Curt Casali blasted a solo home run off the first pitch from Cubs reliever Steve Cishek (2-5, 2.83 ERA) to even the score at three. Jesse Winker then hit a pinch-hit single to left, followed by Nick Senzel reaching on an error by Javier Baez. One out later, Eugenio Suarez delivered a ball that David Bote booted and scored Winker to put the Reds ahead, for good.
Cincinnati received as much pitching as it needed, despite it not always being steady. Luis Castillo (9-3, 2.41) provided six innings of 10 strikeout baseball, but constantly worked around innings with runners on as the Cubs went in order just once, and that was the first frame. Castillo did allow seven hits, including a home run to Kyle Schwarber, and three walks. No mention was made of where Schwarber grew up, so that may have galvanized him to the game that he ultimately had.
The eighth inning saw the Reds do something they have done little of, in 2019, which is to play add-on late in the game. Phil Ervin got the party started with a lead-off single on this, the day of his birth. After a wild pitch and a productive groundout by Scooter Gennett, Ervin stood 90 feet away. A lazy infield fly, by Jose Iglesias, put the Reds up against it with two outs, but Kyle Farmer hit a pinch-hit double to plate Ervin. That pinch hit gives Farmer the fifth-most in the National League, with nine. Not to be outdone, Michael Lorenzen hit an RBI-single to give us the score we ended up with.
Speaking of Lorenzen, the bullpen duo of he and Raisel Iglesias (17th save) held the Cubs to two hits in the final three innings. Iglesias came in the bottom of the eighth with one out and runners on first and second to induce an inning-ending double play. He pitched a perfect 1.2 innings with a pair of strikeouts to close out the series-opening win over the current NL Central division leaders.
The Reds, once-again, pull within shouting distance of the second Wild Card spot (3.5 GB) and are now tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Tomorrow sees game two of the series with Anthony DeSclafani (5-4, 4.26) taking the mound to face Alec Mills and the Cubs. This will be Mills’ first time toeing the rubber, in 2019, after tossing 18 innings, in 2018.