Cubs face Reds, looking to find runs, end 11-game skid
The moving parts continue to shift on the Cincinnati Reds as they return home to host the stripped-down and slumping Chicago Cubs in the opener of a three-game series Monday night. The Reds are pushing for the playoffs, while the Cubs have lost 11 straight.
The Reds defeated the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday, despite losing their two All-Stars and manager before the end of the third inning.
Jesse Winker flew out to deep right in the third inning against Aaron Nola but on the swing, the Reds’ left fielder tweaked his upper back and will be day-to-day with the same injury that sidelined him on Friday in Philadelphia.
The Reds also lost Nick Castellanos in the first inning when he was ejected for arguing a called third strike. His replacement, Shogo Akiyama came through with a clutch two-out, two-run double in the third inning to put the Reds ahead, 3-0.
The Reds were hoping Sonny Gray would go deep in the game, but he lasted just 4 2/3 innings, leaving the game in the hands of the bullpen. The combination of Lucas Sims, Michael Lorenzen, Luis Cessa and Mychal Givens combined to allow just one run over the final 4 1/3 innings in the 7-4 victory.
“It’s going to be what it takes the rest of the way. Shogo came up with a big hit. Our bullpen was big,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I thought this road trip was another great example.”
The Reds, who went 3-4 on their road trip through Cleveland, Atlanta and Philadelphia, optioned the versatile but oft-injured Nick Senzel to Triple-A Louisville on Sunday as he was activated off the injured list.
“Having an extra reliever right now, as we go through a 20-game stretch, is really important for us,” Reds general manager Nick Krall said. “Especially as guys get tired in August.”
The Reds have won five of six meetings between the two clubs this season in Cincinnati, and nine of 13 overall.
The Cubs, meanwhile, continue to search for offense from their struggling lineup. They dropped their 11th straight on Sunday in Miami, 4-1, and have been outscored 50-19 in their last five games.
“The guys are staying ready,” manager David Ross said. “We’re getting some contributions off the bench, pinch-hitting. Guys are ready and prepared for their at-bats. I think guys continue to stay in their approach throughout the game. Guys are making contact, trying not to strike out, using all the field.”
The Reds will send left-hander Wade Miley (9-4, 3.00 ERA) to the mound in the series opener. Miley will attempt to join Tyler Mahle as a 10-game winner on the Cincinnati staff. Miley is 1-0 this season against the Cubs with a 3.94 ERA in three starts. Lifetime, Miley is 7-4 with a 4.39 ERA in 14 starts.
The Cubs counter with a lefty of their own in rookie Justin Steele (2-1, 2.95), who will be making his second start of the season and his 13th appearance.
Steele was recalled to make his first career start in the first game of a doubleheader on Aug. 10 vs. Milwaukee. He allowed three runs on five hits with one walk and one strikeout in five innings. Steele became the Cubs’ first left-handed starting pitcher in 2021.
Steele will be facing the Reds for the third time in his career, with the previous two outings coming in relief. Steele struck out a season-high five batters in two innings on April 30 in Cincinnati.
Two days later, he surrendered three runs in an inning of relief in Cincinnati’s 13-12 win in 10 innings.
–Field Level Media