Happy #TBT! Let’s throwback to 2016!
After the past two weeks, it was really nice to see the Cubs play an awfully familiar game against the Reds. The Cubs jumped all over Amir Garrett for five runs in the first inning and eventually opened up a 9-0 lead by the fifth.
I’ll need our BP Cincinnati correspondents to verify this but I’m pretty sure sometime that inning a “Let’s Go Cubbies” chant broke out in an empty Great American Ballpark.
What You Need to Know: It was NLCS MVP Day at Wrigley Field as Javy Baez went 3-for-3 with a first inning grand slam that opened up the 5-0 lead. He also made a nice play ranging to his left to rob Scott Schebler of a base hit in the fourth.
And finally, he managed to dodge not one but two consecutive bats that a wild-swinging Addison Russell sent in his direction in the on deck circle. Perhaps Addison was trying to break his recent slump by channeling Andre Dawson, and the mental energy required to do so made him hallucinate that Javy was Joe West.
Although we all know that if Russell really wanted to fluster Javy, he’d toss him a stick of gum.
Jon Lester was absolutely brilliant today, shaving off the corners on both sides of the plate and generating many swings and misses on sliders and cutters darting into the dirt. He struck out five in six innings, giving up three runs after the Cubs had jumped out to that nine run lead.
For most of the the game, we could relax and revel in the Brennamanfreude as we pictured the Reds broadcast crew having to fill time during a three hour blowout. Perhaps they plugged the upcoming Marty and Thom Alarm Clock Day where Reds fans are awakened to the sound of “Enough Already.”
After all, that’s the best way to get them prepared for another 24 hours in Cincinnati.
Hector Rondon and Brian Duensing gave up a bunch of hits in the later innings while trying to just throw strikes and protect the big lead. The Reds cut the lead to 9-4 and had the bases loaded with nobody out in the ninth, suddenly making this much more nerve wracking than it should have been.
That’s when Joe Maddon called on Koji Uehara to put an end to this nonsense. A flyball and two three pitch strikeouts later and it was time to visit High Five City.
Next Level: Continuing the #TBT theme, the Cubs drew nine walks off of Reds pitching today. The most important one might have come in the first as it helped set the tone for the entire game.
The Cubs had loaded the bases with two outs off of Garrett and the slumping Russell was at the plate. On a 1-1 pitch, plate umpire Ed Hickox gave Garrett a strike on a low pitch that appeared to miss the strike zone by quite a bit.
At that point, it would have been easy for Russell to give into the frustration of the situation, as it’s been quite a while since he’s looked comfortable at the plate. But to his credit, he continued to battle Garrett and worked the count full. Finally, he took a low and inside pitch to grind out a well-earned RBI walk for the first run of the game.
Following the base on balls, Garrett expressed his discontent with Hickox. Because he begins every start by drawing a giant “A” on the mound, we can only conclude that he’s an anarchist who wants to destroy all rules that apply to the strike zone.
I assume his ideal game is any one umpired by CB Bucknor.
Top Play (WPA): It’s always nice to see a Baez Grand Slam (+.232). It’s especially nice to see it on a 1-2 pitch. Garrett hung a high changeup in the middle of the zone and Javy unloaded on it. Behind the plate, Tucker Barnhart immediately winced and turned his head away from Javy’s swing as if it were the teaser for the new sequel to The Purge.
Bottom Play (WPA): As the Reds attempted to climb back in the ninth, Joey Votto was hit by a Duensing pitch to fill the bases with nobody out, leading to what I can only assume was a five minute rant by Marty Brennaman complaining that he didn’t try to swing at it. (-.035)
Up Next: After enjoying a sweep, the Cubs continue a long homestand with the first of three games against the first place Brewers. After typing the end of that sentence, my autocorrect has given up. Eddie Butler gets his first Wrigley Field start tomorrow against the ace of the Milwaukee staff: TBD.
Lead photo courtesy David Banks—USA Today Sports.