Game Thirty-One – Cubs 2 Reds 14
WP – Aaron Harang (2-4) LP – Tom Gorzelanny (1-4) Save – None
A day after plating 14 runs and posting a feel-good win against the Reds, it was the same old same old for the Chicago Cubs Saturday night. Horrendous defense, poor baserunning, another bad day for the bullpen, questionable decisions by the Cubs’ manager, no clutch hitting … and the list goes on and on.
The offense scored two runs on 12 hits, 11 singles and a double by Starlin Castro. They left 11 on base and finished the night 3-for-12 with RISP.
Lou Piniella’s crew wasted another quality start by Tom Gorzelanny but the game turned ugly and into a blowout in the bottom of the seventh. The Cubs cut the Reds lead to 3-2 with a bases loaded walk by Xavier Nady in the top of the seventh.
Derrek Lee followed Nady with a chance to tie or give the Cubs the lead. But Lee checked his swing and tapped back to the Arthur Rhodes to end the inning.
After the Cubs failed to take advantage in the top of the seventh, Starlin Castro and Mike Fontenot committed back-to-back errors in the bottom of the seventh and opened the floodgates. The Reds scored five runs in the seventh off of Esmailin Caridad, Sean Marshall and Carlos Zambrano. But the Reds were not done.
Dusty Baker’s team continued their celebrating and scored six more in the eighth off of Justin Berg … the big hit, the first career Grand Slam by Ryan Hanigan.
What was a close game that the Cubs had a chance to win turned into another embarrassing loss.
With Saturday’s defeat, the Cubs have dropped four of their last five and slip back to three games under the .500 mark at 14-17 …
Orlando Cabrera led off the bottom of the first with a single to center. Gorzelanny retired Brandon Phillips but served up his second homer of the season to Joey Votto. Votto launched a 0-1 pitch over the wall in center. His sixth of the season … 2-0 Reds.
For some reason the Cubs keep pitching to Joey Votto … and he keeps pounding Cubs’ pitching. The Cubs need to either change their approach against Votto or start brushing him back off the plate. No head hunting, just a couple in the ribs … the way the game used to be played.
The Cubs had a chance to cut into the Reds lead in the top of the second.
Marlon Byrd led off the second with a single to right. With Aramis Ramirez at the plate, Harang uncorked a wild pitch. Byrd advanced to second. Ramirez ran the count to 3-2 then singled to right. Byrd hesitated but was sent by Mike Quade. Jay Bruce threw out Byrd at the plate … and it was not close. Byrd should not have been sent and Aramis Ramirez should have ended up at second. Bruce threw a strike but it was high over the cutoff man and Ramirez did not read the throw. So instead of one out, man on second and disappointed, the Cubs had a man on first with one out.
Alfonso Soriano then singled to left off of Scott Rolen’s glove. Geovany Soto flied out to deep right and just missed a three-run homer. Ramirez advanced to third but Starlin Castro flied out to right to end the inning.
The Reds tacked on in the third. Brandon Phillips reached on an infield single to the hole at short. Castro showed off his range but could not get anything on the throw. Joey Votto struck out swinging. Phillips took off on the 1-2 pitch to Votto and slid in head first ahead of Castro’s tag. Soto’s throw was on the mark. Castro caught the ball in front of the bag, which gave Phillips a way into the bag.
Scott Rolen advanced Phillips to third with a weak chopper to Ramirez. Jonny Gomes, who was very excited about beating the Cubs Saturday night, singled to left on a 3-1 pitch from Gorzelanny … Phillips scored, 3-0 Reds.
It was Aaron Harang circa 2006 Saturday night. He painted the outside corner and made the Cubs look bad in his 200th career start in a Reds’ uniform. Harang ended up with the 10th career win against the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs finally got on the board in the sixth. Ryan Theriot singled to right center to start the inning. Kosuke Fukudome grounded out to first. Votto deflected the ball to Phillips who tossed to Harang covering first … it was a good play. Theriot ended up at second and advanced to third on a fly out to deep center by Derrek Lee. Marlon Byrd hit a chopper over the mound that Phillips fielded but could not throw out Byrd at first. Theriot scored …. 3-1 Reds.
Aramis Ramirez hit the ball hard all night and lined out to right center to end the sixth.
Starlin Castro doubled to right with two outs in the seventh. Mike Fontenot pinch hit for Gorzelanny and walked. Mike Lincoln replaced Aaron Harang with the Reds up 3-1. Ryan Theriot reached on a swinging bunt that Lincoln bobbled. With the bases loaded, Baker went to his pen for Arthur Rhodes.
Lou Piniella sent up Xavier Nady to hit for Kosuke Fukudome against the veteran lefty. Nady worked a walk and forced in Castro with the Cubs second run. Derrek Lee checked his swing on a 1-0 offering from Rhodes … and tapped back to the mound to end the inning.
With the Cubs down by one, Esmailin Caridad took the mound in the bottom of the seventh. But not only did Piniella stick Caridad on the hill in his first game back, he left Xavier Nady in the game in right and put Mike Fontenot at second base. Nady and Fontenot should not be anywhere near the field late in ballgames, period. Fontenot cannot catch and Nady cannot throw … and both players cost the Cubs runs.
Orlando Cabrera reached on an error by Castro … a routine grounder to the rookie shortstop. Cabrera stole second after Caridad forgot about him. Then Brandon Phillips hit a routine grounder to Mike Fontenot. Fontenot bobbled it, Cabrera ended up at third.
Piniella went to his pen for Sean Marshall. Marshall walked Joey Votto to load the bases with no outs. Enter Carlos Zambrano.
Big Z struck out Scott Rolen and for a brief moment it looked like Zambrano would escape the jam. Jonny Gomes then ripped a 2-2 pitch into right. Nady lobbed the ball back in as two more runs scored … 5-2 Reds.
Jay Bruce hit a grounder to Lee. He bobbled the ball, recovered and tossed to Zambrano for the second out. Votto held at third and Gomes advanced to second on the play.
Drew Stubbs fell behind 1-2 before working the count to 3-2. Stubbs then hit a slow chopper up the middle. Castro fielded the ball but the speedy Stubbs beat the throw. Votto scored easily and so did Gomes from second. It was a close play and Soto thought he tagged out Gomes. But the joyous left fielder ran for the dugout and celebrated scoring with his teammates.
Ryan Hanigan followed with a bloop double to right. Stubbs scored easily due to the fact Nady cannot throw a baseball … 8-2 Reds at the end of seven.
Justin Berg threw batting practice in the eighth. Cabrera singled to center. Brandon Phillips double to right (remember the right fielder cannot throw a baseball). Berg intentionally walked Votto to load the bases … with no outs.
Scott Rolen hit a sacrifice fly to left center. Cabrera scored, 9-2. After Berg struck out Miguel Cairo, he hit Jay Bruce and loaded the bases.
Berg walked the free-swinging Drew Stubbs and forced in the 10th run of the game. Ryan Hanigan then completed his career night with his first career Grand Slam … a shot to left on a 2-1 pitch. 14-2 Reds and the Cubs went quietly in the ninth after the first two batters reached on back-to-back singles.
At best the 2010 Chicago Cubs are a mediocre team and will begin play on Sunday in fifth place in the National League Central Division. Not what the Cubs front office or the Ricketts family envisioned when the season began. But reality nonetheless …
Ryan Dempster will try to notch his first career win at Great American Sunday afternoon. Mike Leake will take the hill for the Reds.