The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Zack Cozart had suffered through a mini slump over the past two weeks, at one point having hit just .100 over a 10 game stretch. The Cincinnati Reds shortstop seemingly eschewed that trend while in Washington over the weekend, and on Monday showed he's seeing the ball well again.
Cozart smacked a 2-run homer against the Chicago Cubs in the midst of an otherwise putrid performance by the Reds, and also added an earlier single to boot. Cozy's been a bright spot for much of the 2016 season, and seeing him carry that solid offensive performance through the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline just might do wonders for his value and for Cincinnati's deep, dark rebuild.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Joey Votto, who singled twice, walked, and scored a run; Blake Wood, who danced around a few baserunners but kept the Cubs off the board for 1.1 innings of relief; Ivan De Jesus, Jr., who singled twice after entering on a double switch mid-game; and Ross Ohlendorf, who similarly kept the Cubs scoreless in relief despite allowing a pair of baserunners.
- The Cubs scored a trio of runs in the Bottom of the 1st, and that alone was enough to punt the Reds into the loss column once again. A Kris Bryant walk and later HBP by Wilson Contreras put Cody Reed on hot coals, and an Addison Russell single followed by a Jason Heyward double threw gasoline on it. Reds trailed, 3-0.
- Not that the conflagration stopped there. A booted grounder by Brandon Phillips put a runner on in the Bottom of the 2nd, and Bryant then tattooed a Reed meatball for a 2-run homer. Contreras, for good measure, then homered two batters later, and the Reds were down, 6-0.
- Fast forward to the Bottom of the 4th - which is pretty much what the Reds offense expedited while tangling with Kyle Hendricks - and the Cubs tacked on another two, though at least that came when Eugenio Suarez booted a routine grounder at 3B with the bases loaded, one that very well could've (and perhaps should've) been an inning ending double play. Instead, it effectively ended Reed's day, as he was lifted after 4 IP. Reds trailed, 8-0.
- The Reds scored in the Top of the 6th. Yay! Then the Cubs scored twice in the Bottom of the 6th. Damn!
- Cincinnati finally put together a decent string of offense in the Top of the 7th, and it coincided with former Red Travis Wood taking the mound. Wood retired the first two batters he faced, but a single up the middle by Ivan De Jesus, Jr. seemed to break that rhythm. Cozart then followed with 2-run homer into the netting on the LF wall, and Suarez then belted a solo shot of his own to CF. Reds trailed, 10-4.
- After that, both sets of hitters were shut down, and that was that. Reds lost, 10-4.
- Word broke this morning that the Reds had fired pitching coach Mark Riggins and replaced him with bullpen coach Mack Jenkins. Maybe that'll start having a bigger impact beginning tomorrow.
- Speaking of which, Reed's final line: 4 IP, 8 R (4 ER), 5 H, 3 BB, 2 K on 78 pitches. His defense failed him several times, but he didn't exactly do much to limit the damage or prevent damaging opportunities, either. With Ted Power coming to the Reds from having been the pitching coach for AAA Louisville - where Reed had seen significantly more refined results - perhaps we'll get a glimpse at Reed looking more like the top prospect he truly is.
- Chicago sent pitcher Jason Hammel to the plate to pinch hit in the Bottom of the 8th whilst ahead 10-4. He singled, of course.
- Kris Bryant left the game after the 5th inning, immediately after a decent collision while making a catch in the OF (he had started in LF in this one).
- No, errors aren't the best way to judge a team's defense, but the Reds have now committed the 2nd most of any team in all of baseball in 2016. It's not super telling, but it still isn't good.
- The Reds and Cubs will butt heads again on Tuesday, with first pitch set for 2:20 PM ET. Brandon Finnegan will get the start for Cincinnati with sights set on improving from his miserable outing against the Washington Nationals last week, and he'll be opposed by familiar foe and expert pained expression maker John Lackey.