Cincinnati Reds pitching made four runs scored by the offense over the first three innings hold up in a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs before 11,417 at Great American Ball Park.

Final R H E
Chicago Cubs (18-25) 3 5 0
Cincinnati Reds (13-30)
4 7 0
W: Castillo (1-2) L: Hendricks (2-5)  SV: Strickland (1)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

Joey Votto was the offensive star for the Reds, striking a homer and a triple and driving in three runs in his first two at-bats. He later struck out and then walked in the eighth inning, an at-bat that included a pitch very high and inside. It led to some words between Cubs pitcher Rowan Wick and Votto, and even more spillover emotions in the ninth inning. (See news and notes below.)

In the ninth inning, Reds reliever Hunter Strickland picked up his first save, with some help from centerfielder Nick Senzel:

He made a leaping catch as he neared the wall of a well-hit ball off the bat of Willson Contreras with two Cub runners on base. That was the second out, and after a bloop RBI hit by Nico Hoerner, Strickland struck out the impressive Cubs rookie Christopher Morel to end the game and Cincinnati’s two-game losing streak.

Senzel had three very, very nice defensive plays which were critical to the one-run victory.

The Offense

In the bottom of the second inning, Votto initiated this evening’s Reds scoring:

In the third, the home team tied it on a Tommy Pham single, then went ahead 4-2 on what Redleg Nation regular Mark Moore called “three words that prove we’re living on the edge of the apocalypse” …

“Joey Votto triples.” It was only his second since 2019.

Pham and Matt Reynolds were two-hit performers in this game, along with Votto.

The Pitching

Luis Castillo started very slowly in a 25-pitch first inning in which Mr. Groundhog Day (same thing every day vs. the Reds), Ian Happ, doubled in two runs. But thereafter, Castillo righted the ship and at times looked like vintage Luis. He retired 12 of the final 13 Cubs batters he faced, and Manager David Bell pulled him after the fifth at 94 pitches.

Tony Santillan held the Cubs scoreless in the sixth, despite issuing two walks.

Alexis Diaz continued his impressive work in relief, retiring the side in order in the seventh. For the season, major league hitters are 8-for-69 against him, a .116 average. Of the eight hits, seven are singles. The only extra-base hit was an Eric Hosmer homer.

Art Warren retired Chicago in order in the eighth, and then Bell turned to Hunter Strickland for the final three outs against the 5-6-7 batters in the Cubs order. Strickland got those three outs, interspersed among a walk, a hit-batsman (see below) and the run-scoring hit by Hoerner which drew Chicago within 4-3.

News and notes

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Cubs reliever Wick threw a pitch very high and tight to Votto, then appeared to utter a profanity at Votto as he took first base. That was followed by this:

That was then followed by Cubs batter Patrick Wisdom being plunked by Strickland with one out in the ninth. Cubs Manager David Ross then started yapping at the home plate umpire, perhaps seeking some action against Strickland, and was ejected.

Up Next for the Cincinnati Reds

Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds

Thursday, May 26, 12:35 p.m. ET

Justin Steele (1-4, 3.82 ERA) vs. Hunter Greene (1-6, 5.49 ERA)

51 Responses

  1. VaRedsFan

    Excellent recap Tom. Love the video clips inserted.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Thank you very much. I’m glad you like it.

  2. Rednat

    Glad they won although it is hard to imagine this team winning more than 40 games this year. i still think the 1962 mets record is a possibility. Even win they win it is like they barely hold on.

    • CFD3000

      Wow. Rednat – that’s incredibly pessimistic. Even after a 3-22 start, the Reds are on pace to win 48 games. They’d have to go 27-92 the rest of the way to only win 40. That’s a .226 winning percentage. Behind Luis Castillo, Hunter Greene, and Nick Lodolo it’s hard for me to imagine them not being at least a .500 club. That would mean about 35 more wins even if the remaining two starters never pitch in a winning game the rest of the season. Have some faith here. I don’t even think the Reds will lose 100 games this year let alone 122. They will get back Jonathan India, Jose Barrero, Nick Lodolo, Lucas Sims, Jake Fraley and Max Schrock. And Joey Votto is just warming up. I choose optimism. But first things first – this was a good win. Good defense, some clutch hitting, mostly solid pitching. And that’s one win closer to at least 41 for the year!

      • Joey Red

        While I admire your optimism this is a bad team and a bad franchise. It’s May 26 and they have won only 13 games. It’s great to beat the Cubs but they too are awful. I’m pessimistic because we’re talking about the Reds meaning ownership and FO. They have shown they aren’t capable and actually aren’t interested in building a winning team. If they do it will be an accident or luck. And if that happens those players will be traded away and yet another rebuild will follow. This isn’t pessimism. This is history and facts based on the performance of the current leadership of the Reds. But I’ll say again I admire your optimism.

      • JB

        Why do people think Jake Fraley is the answer? He has a career average of .186 and OPS of about .650. He is 27 and was nothing but a throw in, in the trade for Winker. He is another AAAA player that the Reds covet.

  3. Rednat

    the eighth inning at bat by Senzel bothered me and is one of the reasons i really hate the sabermetric style of baseball now. he is up to bat with 2 outs and a man on 2nd and 3rd after the Moose stolen base. you are desperately needing a hit to provide some insurance. you have the bottom of the order hitting behind you so it is up to you to get a hit. a walk does NOTHING!! Instead of expanding the strike zone with 2 strikes you take a called 3rd strike right down the plate. there is absolutely no situational hitting thinking going on at all. I notice Stephenson and Aquino take a lot of called third strikes as well.

    • LDS

      I wasn’t watching the game. Moose stole a base?

      • CFD3000

        Not really LDS. He took second in the 9th on a first and third situation. The catcher faked a throw to second to try to tempt Pham off third and Moose went in standing up. A smart play by Moustakas, but not far off defensive indifference.

      • DaveCT

        They had a commercial break halfway.

      • Bet on red

        It was not defensive interference, so despite the half minute he took, it is considered a.stolen base. Although it clearly was the attempt to draw the throw.

      • Melvin

        One one really saw it. He was too quick. All of a sudden there he was on second. 🙂

    • CFD3000

      I don’t think he thought it might be a ball, or was looking for ball four. I think he was just fooled by the curve and caught off guard. But that said, I agree with your point. Even if he’s expecting the fastball he’s got to know a curve is a possibility and be prepared to fight it off. Senzel almost struck out on the previous curve but the first base ump said he checked his swing. I wasn’t at all surprised that the 3-2 pitch was a curve as well – and Senzel should have at least been ready for that possibility. Maybe it’s just a matter of reps – he doesn’t look his normal self at the plate yet but I’m hoping a few more games will change that. The Reds need his bat from the right side (India and Stephenson too!)

      • Jim Walker

        At this point, I think it is fair game to ask what is Senzel’s normal self on offense. He is approaching 700PAs across parts of 4 seasons with a career OPS+ of 74. HIs best season was his rookie year which came in at an OPS of 87 in 414 PAs. In 2021 he made 124 made PAs and posted a 65 OPS+

        Going back to his major stint at AAA in 2018, his OPS was .887 for 193PAs. By comparison, last year Barrero was .919 in 360PAs, withboth guys in their age 23 seasons, and in 2019, Aquino was .992 in 323PAs in his age 25 season

      • Indy Red Man

        Senzel made some nice plays defensively, but I remember watching Almora rob us time after time with men on base. He’s better then Nick defensively so Nick better hit. AA throws better and has crazy power too. If you can’t show a little power in Gabp then you don’t have any.

      • greenmtred

        It is fair, Jim. Much the same could be said about Barrero in MLB. Neither guy has had an extended chance to settle in and establish a workable approach.

    • 2020ball

      How is this sabremetric thinking? A strikeout isnt better than a hit in any statistical method. Not sure your point, but bad hitting is just bad hitting. Im not sure why you expand your strikezone, sounds more to me like he took a pitch he shoulda swung at, and that with 2 strikes is just bad.

    • Randy

      So much for trying to put the ball in play they seem to think it can be done with the bat on there shoulder.

  4. Hanawi

    Always good to shut the Cubs’ fans up at home. Nice to see Votto getting hot. Not sure we’ll see him return to last year’s level, but some production from the middle of the lineup will go a long way. Odd that he has seemingly rebounded after missing time each of the last three years. Not sure what’s going on there, but if does come back next year (which I’m not 100% certain is the case), maybe he can go on the DL in spring training to get a jump on that. Hope India and Barrero can get back and stay healthy. Probably most important pieces to see playing for different reasons.

    • Jim Walker

      In 5 rehab games at Louisville, Barrero’s AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS slash line is .294/.333/.529/.862. in 5games/ 18PAs.

      Maybe it is time for Barrero to proclaim himself as “ready” and show up at GABP??

      • Redsvol

        I see what you did there jw – and I like it! Who knew someone with no major league track record could tell the team he didn’t want to be in the minors anymore. Tony Larussa would get a kick out if nick.

  5. Reddawg2012

    Tom, your recaps are the best. Thanks for including the video clips. They fill in the gaps when I’m not able to watch the full game!

    • RedsMonk65

      I, too, appreciate the video highlight clips — as someone who cannot usually watch the games (due to MLB’s insane greediness/blackout policies). Of course, I could go elsewhere and hunt them down, but it’s nice to have them all here in context on this site. Thanks!

  6. Earmbrister

    Moustakas steals a base, Votto triples.

    Let’s do the Time Warp again!

    • Melvin

      It’s about time we released our speed. It’s hard for anyone to get a triple in the Great American Launching Pad. I figured if anyone could do it it would be Votto. 🙂

    • Mark Moore

      You say time warp … I say 2 of the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse …

      Nice to win one after digging a little hole to start.

      • Earmbrister

        I was going for the movie reference, but your reference is more apropos.

        Nicely done.

  7. Kevin H

    Senzel playing gold glove type defense. Gotta have that in cf.

    Good deal Senzel. His hitting will come around.

    • Jim t

      Kevin if Senzel can stay healthy he is a keeper. That is a big IF though. I would not question his talent. It’s his availability. Hope he succeeds. He seems to be a fine young man.

      • Earmbrister

        I agree with you both. Senzel should play everyday, health permitting.

      • Kevin H

        I agree and I admit I am a big fan. As you mentioned if he can stay healthy then yes he is a keeper. I liked the outfield of Winker and Senzel and looked forward to that for years to come. Well, we know how that turned out lol

  8. redsfan4040

    Votto in six games since coming off IL: .316/.435/.842/1.277

  9. Steven Ross

    For once, a fun game to watch. I still don’t understand why Bell doesn’t use Diaz in the 9th. What more does he need to see?

    • Jim t

      @Steve you may want to consider Bell is using his closer a bit different then just having him pitch the ninth inning.

      What Bell is doing is using Diaz when the oppositions best hitters are coming. That could be the 7th, 8th or 9th. He did that in the last 2 reds wins. Art Warren pitched the 9th which was bottom of the order same as Strickland did last night. I really like his thinking on this strategy.

    • greenmtred

      If Diaz is the best guy in the pen, wouldn’t you want to use him in the highest-leverage situation? It’s not necessarily the 9th. He has electric stuff and will likely be great. Right now, though, he has more work to do on control. Same can be said, to some degree, of Santillon.

      • Jim t

        @Greenmtred I definitely would want to use him in high leverage situations. Diaz, Santillon and Warren are making progress. Would like to add a high leverage lefty to the group. Bull pen usage has changed. Mostly because there are very few starting pitchers that can consistently give you 7 innings. If a team knows you have a weak pen their plan will always be to try to run up the pitchers pitch count. Most are set at 100 pitches.

  10. Mark Moore

    Other than the extreme cardiac event that was the 9th, a good game. Back at it in about 3 hours. I’ll have it running on one of my screens. Only a 30-minute meeting this afternoon to “interrupt”.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Senzel has really captured my attention. For the past few weeks I have presumed that Almora is by far the best defensive centerfielder on the team. Senzel has closed the gap tremendously. Now if either one of those guys could hit consistently, you’d have something to build the rest of the outfield around.

      • Jim Walker

        Agree in strictly baseball terms but Almora has only one year of team control remaining after this season (he was only 19 days short of 5 years at the start of 2022) and Senzel is making over $1m this year for negative career WAR and still has 3 years of arbitration ahead.

        Time for proving may be past for Almora and only till the end of this season for Senzel.

  11. SultanofSwaff

    Joey acting like he’s all about that thug life lol.

    We needed one more inning from Castillo, if only to lessen the risk of one of your 4 relievers every night blowing up. That’s why getting 6 from your starter is so important. Hopefully it’s not a trend. Gray last year was always perfectly content to go 5 and think he did his job. Sorry, the team needs more from their veteran starters.

    By September, the Reds might have the makings of a solid bullpen core—Diaz, Santillan, Sims, and hopefully Antone and (I think he’ll end up there) Ashcraft.

    • greenmtred

      I hadn’t heard that Antone was coming back this year. I wouldn’t think so. He just had his second TJ surgery less than a year ago, didn’t he?

    • Jim Walker

      Agree about needing another inning from Castillo. I suspect that as/ if Greene continues to progress and stays healthy, we will start seeing Castillo as an unfinished project whose potential was more lost than realized.

  12. Kevin H

    Good to see Votto heating up. I honestly think Pham needs to sit as I think the best outfield as people have been discussing is Aqunio, Senzel, and Naquin. I say this as others have said, why not give those two a season to show if they belong or not.

    • Jim t

      I’d play AA against lefties and use him as a pinch hitter and I’d use Naquin against righties. Pham and Senzelwould play everyday.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        Surprisingly, Aquino’s career splits are worse against lefties than righties.

      • Jim t

        @Tom i had heard that before on one of the broadcast. I wonder if sample size may play apart in that. AA is very confusing. When he makes consistent contact and don’t chase balls off the plate he is very good. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to make the adjustment to elevate himself to regular outfielder.

  13. Jayce

    I wonder what exactly Wick said to Votto for him to be yapping so much. One thing Wick said after game is “I wonder if he knows we’re both Canadian”. What’s that got to do with anything?

  14. DataDumpster

    Without trying to analyze Bell’s intentions and “strategery” regarding the lineup today, I like the setup. You could argue that only the middle (4,5,6) of the order is almost certain to be on the team next year while the others all have significant work ahead to be part of the “core” for 2023-4. Let them all get a decent chance because that is what its all about. Just maybe Drury at 3B will get a better trial and having an Almora/Senzel/Aquino simultaneous look in the OF will bring additional clarity over time.