Game Eighty-Three – Cubs 5, Reds 9
WP – Brandon Finnegan (4-7) LP – John Lackey (7-5) Save – None
The Cubs hit four home runs, Addison Russell went yard twice for the second time in his career. The Cubs scored all five runs on the four longballs. John Lackey had a miserable start. Lackey gave up six runs in the first four innings and put the Cubs in a hole, one his teammates could not dig out of. And the Cubs lost a game to the Reds for the second time this season.
John Lackey gave the Reds two runs in the first inning and allowed the Reds to take a 5-0 lead after three innings. The Cubs scored four runs in the third on three home runs, one each by Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and a two-run shot by Addison Russell. Lackey allowed the Reds to score again in the fourth before he settled down. Lackey ended up retiring the last nine batters he faced and completed six innings.
The Cubs had trouble all day with homeplate umpire Jerry Meals. After a missed call on a 3-0 pitch to David Ross in which no one, except Meals, thought was a strike. Reds’ pitcher Brandon Finnegan was trying to walk Ross. Joe Maddon voiced his displeasure and was ejected from the game in the second inning.
The Cubs’ pitching staff could not throw strikes and issued seven walks (four scored) with only six strikeouts and gave up 10 hits. And the offense did not help. The Cubs scored five times on seven hits (four home runs), walked five times and Jeimer Candelario was hit by a pitch. The Cubs were 0-for-7 with RISP and left eight men on base.
Addison Russell (2-for4 with two home runs and three RBI), Kris Bryant (1-for-5 with a home run) and Javier Baez (1-for-3 with a home run and a walk) supplied the power. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a walk) and Willson Contreras (1-for-5 with a double) also had hits.
The Cubs were not expected to keep beating the Reds all season the way they had. What makes Tuesday’s loss difficult was that the Cubs helped the Reds in every way possible. Cubs’ pitching issued seven walks, four of the free passes scored. The mistakes, physical and mental, have to be cleaned up. The Cubs look tired and running on fumes as the All-Star break approaches. The mental break will likely do as much as the physical one most of the players will receive.
John Lackey settled down after a horrible start and ended up with just a bad outing. Lackey allowed his emotions to get the best of him. And his reactions to non-calls cost his team runs in the first inning. Lackey is fiery competitor and that’s fine. But what he did Tuesday was unacceptable. Winning, not whining, is the goal.
The first inning was just about as ugly as it’s been all season for the Cubs. John Lackey gave the Reds, a struggling team, a run and energy for the entire day. Lackey was not the veteran leader whatsoever the Cubs needed. Lackey retired Cozart on a pop fly to center to start the game. Lackey then walked Billy Hamilton. The Cubs allow a mediocre, at best, player to impact too many games without having to earn his way on base. Hamilton predictably stole second. Lackey walked Joey Votto.
David Ross whiffed on the first pitch to Jay Bruce. He simply did not catch it. As Lackey reacted to Ross’ mistake and another missed called by the homeplate umpire, Hamilton had thoughts of scoring from second base. Hamilton rounded third, Ross tried to throw to a lumbering Lackey as he made his way to the plate. Hamilton scored, Ross’ throw got away and Votto went to third. Lackey walked Bruce.
With runners on the corners and one out, Lackey struck out Adam Duvall. Brandon Phillips ripped a 2-2 pitch to left. Votto scored easily, 2-0 Reds. Willson Contreras threw a strike to third and Bryant tagged out Bruce to end the inning. Lackey labored through a 26-pitch first inning (12 for strikes) after retiring the first batter (Cozart) on one pitch.
The Reds added on in the second, third and fourth innings before Lackey finally found a groove. Zack Cozart hit a two-run homer in the second. Lackey issued a two out walk to Suarez in the third and he scored on a double to right by Ramon Cabrera. In the fourth, Lackey served up a leadoff double to Cozart. Hamilton tried to bunt his way on, could not but still sacrificed Cozart to third. Joey Votto hit a sac fly to center. Cozart scored and made it a 6-4 game.
Travis Wood allowed a run in the seventh. Joel Peralta kept the Reds from tacking on in the eighth inning. But the offense could not come up with a clutch hit against Raisel Iglesias. The Cubs put the leadoff hitter on in each of the first two innings he pitched and had two runners on in the sixth and seventh.
Jay Bruce hit a two-run homer off Pedro Strop in the top of the ninth that put the game out of reach.
Tuesday’s performance should concern Joe Maddon and his coaching staff because of the mental mistakes that were made.
With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 52-31 on the season.
Adam Warren will be recalled from Iowa on Wednesday (1:20pm CDT) and face right-hander Anthony DeSclafani in the series finale with the Reds.