Game Seven – Cubs 4 Reds 1
Updated – 8:52pm C.T.
The second game of the series against the Reds was not a pretty game….some could even say down right ugly and the only positive was the pitching performance of Greg Maddux. The Reds did commit five errors on Wednesday that helped the Cubs win the ballgame, but were those errors induced? Maddux had another great outing and held the potent Reds’ offense to only 1 run on 3 hits in 6 innings of work….Maddux even struck out seven, just 2 days before his 40th birthday. He kept the Reds hitters guessing all day, he had 2 innings when he retired the Reds in order….Maddux was masterful….all on 86 pitches.
The bullpen held the Reds offense to just one hit, a leadoff single in the top of the 8th. Scott Eyre threw 2 scoreless innings and Ryan Dempster picked up the save and inched closer to the Cubs record for consecutive saves, Dempster is now only one away from tying the record. But the “Juan Pierre Factor” was the difference in the ballgame…. Usually when the opponent commits 5 errors in a ballgame, it is a blowout….but not on Wednesday. The Cubs had their share of mental mistakes like the 1-4-5-3 double play in the bottom of the 4th. Murton led off the inning with an infield single and Neifi Perez popped out to left. Ronny Cedeno hit a ball right back to the pitcher, Murton was to far off second and was eventually thrown out at third. Ronny Cedeno rounded first to far and Encarnacion threw him out….double play. Also Derrek Lee had a made a bad base running decision in the bottom of the 7th. After a one out double, Lee attempted to steal 3rd and was thrown out easily. Was this a hit and run? Those insurance runs are huge and the Cubs must take advantage and play smart baseball in close games. That run could have made the difference between a win and a loss. The Cubs did not commit an official error on Wednesday.
“The Juan Pierre Factor” – Pierre started the game for the Cubs with a bunt single and after a Jerry Hairston fly out to left, Derrek Lee took his first of two walks on the day. The Cubs then tried their first of two double steals on the afternoon. With Pierre on 2nd and Lee on 1st, Javier Valentin attempted to throw out Pierre at 3rd and the ball sailed into left field. Valentin made a throwing error and Lee ended up at 3rd….Pierre scored 1-0 Cubs. Michael Barrett then hit a sac fly to score Derrek Lee.
In the bottom of the 3rd, Pierre reached on an error by Scott Hatteberg and after a Jerry Hairston fly out, Derrek Lee reached on an error by Edwin Encarnacion. Pierre and Lee did another double steal to go to 2nd and 3rd. Barrett hit a ground ball to 3rd and Pierre broke immediately and scored while Encarnacion attempted to rush his play in order to get Pierre out at the plate….Barrett safe at first. Pierre had only 1 hit on Wednesday, but he scored 2 runs and was a thorn in the side of the Reds pitching staff the entire day. Pierre numbers might be down (.233/.258/.333), but they will come around and games are not won by numbers.
Ken Griffey, Jr. left the game in the bottom of the 4th with stiffness in his knee and the ever dangerous Reds offense could only manage a total of 4 hits on Wednesday….hats of to the pitching of Greg Maddux, Scott Eyre and Ryan Dempster.
The Cubs offense only managed 8 hits, but none of the 4 runs were scored via the home run ball. There was not a single Cub on Wednesday that had a multiple hit game and they left six on base.
Good teams find a way to win ugly games. How many times over the past two seasons would the Cubs have found themselves on the losing end of a game like this? When the win/loss records are compiled at the end of the season, no one will circle the game on April 12th and say “but that was a ugly win”….they all count.