The slumping Cincinnati Reds have lost seven of nine entering Tuesday’s game against the host Chicago Cubs, who will look to continue to spoil the Reds’ playoff hopes.
Cincinnati (73-66) fell to one game behind the San Diego Padres for the second National League wild-card spot with Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Cubs, who have won seven straight.
The Reds need to defeat the Cubs on Tuesday and Wednesday to avoid their fifth straight series defeat.
“There’s another level of baseball that we’re capable of playing,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “That’s why we’re in this position. And our players, everyone in there is doing everything they can to get back to that point as quick as possible, and that’s really all you can do. You just keep playing, you keep working, and that’s just never, ever a question about the players on this team.”
Left-hander Wade Miley (11-5, 2.97 ERA) will aim to get the Reds back on track. Miley, who is 3-1 with a 3.24 ERA in his past seven starts, is 8-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 15 career starts against the Cubs.
Frank Schwindel delivered a go-ahead RBI single in Monday’s eighth inning to boost the Cubs (64-75) to victory. Schwindel is batting .441 with six home runs and 14 RBIs during an eight-game hitting streak.
Chicago welcomed a reinforcement Monday as the Cubs activated David Bote (right ankle sprain) from the 10-day injured list before the game. Bote and fellow infielder Nico Hoerner (strained right oblique) completed a full pregame routine consisting of batting practice, baserunning and taking ground balls.
Sidelined since July 29, Hoerner has not yet returned to the active roster, but interim manager Andy Green said Hoerner is “moving forward” but not close to returning.
Despite contending with an organizational COVID-19 scare that saw manager David Ross and president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer test positive Friday, Green said the Cubs have taken numerous precautions as Ross and Hoyer remain away from the team.
“We’re hopeful, cautiously optimistic at this point, but we’re still hopeful,” Green said. “We have the three-to-five day window. Still right in kind of the prime of it when someone could potentially test positive as far as I know. This day, every one of the guys who have come in, including myself, tested negative.
“So we haven’t seen it spread, and I think if we clear tomorrow, that’s approaching the end of our testing window that would come back to us on Wednesday morning, the last day before the off day. And if we’re clear all the way through there, we’ll continue to be as cautiously optimistic as all of us can be in a COVID world that we live in right now.”
Adrian Sampson (0-1, 1.59) is set to start for the Cubs. The right-hander has faced the Reds once in his career, taking a no-decision at Cincinnati on Aug. 18 after allowing one run and five hits in four innings. Sampson has not started since, but is coming off Thursday’s sterling relief appearance against Pittsburgh, when he pitched 3 1/3 scoreless and hitless innings while striking out four.
Cincinnati leads the season series with Chicago 10-7.
–Field Level Media