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Javier Baez grand slam roughs up Amir Garrett, Reds in 9-5 loss to Cubs

The Cubs are a good team, and thorough.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Robert Stephenson fired a scoreless, hitless, 13 pitch inning from the Cincinnati Reds bullpen in Thursday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. And yes, that was certainly a highlight in an otherwise thorough drubbing.

Stephenson’s clean inning means he’s allowed just 2 ER in his last 8 IP, with 6 K, 2 BB, and just 3 H allowed in a span that has stretched across 4 games. Hopefully, hopefully that’s an indication that he’s found a way to consistently retire hitters enough to keep the idea of him in the starting rotation alive, though if that’s still just a tiny flicker of light at this point, at least he’s carving out a niche in a bullpen that needs innings-eaters as well.

Congrats, Bob Steve. Keep it rolling.

Honorable Mentions are due to: Billy Hamilton, who went 2 for 5 with a double, run scored, and a ribbie; Joey Votto, who doubled, walked, and was hit by a pitch; and the schedule, for no longer tasking the Reds with having to play the Cubs for awhile.

Key Plays

  • In an ideal world, Amir Garrett would’ve escaped the Bottom of the 1st after 14 pitches and a lone walk. Alas, a lost-in-the-sun pop-up behind 2B fell in when Zack Cozart lost it, and even his belated flip to 2B to try to catch Kris Bryant failed when Jose Peraza caught it without his foot on the bag. That prolonged the inning considerably, and Garrett struggled with back to back walks, the second of which drove in a run. That left the bases loaded for Javier Baez, and on Garrett’s 34th pitch of the opening inning he floated a breaking meatball that Baez destroyed for a grand slam. Reds trailed, 5-0.
  • After that series of gaffes, the Reds starter settled in rather nicely, yielding only a 4th inning solo rocket to Kris Bryant which left the Reds trailing, 6-0.
  • Garrett gave way to Blake Wood for the Bottom of the 5th, and that went not well. Wood walked Ian Happ to leadoff, and that eventually haunted after an error at 3B by Eugenio Suarez and an RBI single into RF by Baez. Later, a deep sac fly by pitcher Jon Lester scored another Cub, and after a Ben Zobrist single into RF scored Baez, the Reds found themselves behind, 9-0.
  • The Reds finally scraped some runs across the plate in the Top of the 7th, and it was the bottom of the order that did the early work. Jose Peraza led off with a single, and he moved up to 2B on a single by Tucker Barnhart. Former Cub Arismendy Alcantara then singled to drive in Peraza which chased Jon Lester, and the Reds then got an RBI double when Hamilton spanked one into the ivy in CF to score Tucker off reliever Hector Rondon. That left runners on 2B & 3B for Zack Cozart, who plated Alcantara on a productive 4-6 groundout. Then, after Rondon K’d Joey Votto, Adam Duvall poked a single into CF to score Billy, and the Reds trailed, 9-4.
  • Cincinnati loaded the bases with nobody out in the Top of the 9th after back to back singles by Hamilton and Cozart paired with a Votto HBP, and Billy scooted home on a sac-fly to LF by Duvall. Unfortunately, that was the last the Reds could muster, and they fell 9-5 to complete the series sweep.

Tony Graphanino

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • That roadtrip can go suck an egg.
  • Cozart added an error on a routine grounder (and would-be double play ball) later in the game, wrapping one of the worst defensive performances of his otherwise stellar defensive career. Just a blip on the radar, I’m sure.
  • Cozart also failed to homer, ending his streak of consecutive games at Wrigley with a dinger at 5.
  • Garrett’s final line: 4 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 5 K on 80 pitches. In all honesty, it wasn’t Amir’s best start, but those final numbers look a ton worse than how he actually pitched.
  • The Reds will limp back to Cincinnati this evening, and on Friday they’ll open a weekend series at GABP against the Colorado Rockies. Lisalverto Bonilla will get the start opposite Tyler Anderson, with first pitch set for 7:10 PM ET Friday night.
  • The Rockies, by the way, are in 1st place in the NL West and at 13-5 own the best road record in all MLB.
  • Sounds.