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Tyler Mahle shuts down Cubs again, Reds win series opener 3-2

The rookie was nails on Friday afternoon.

Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Remember that time the Cincinnati Reds embarked on a lengthy rebuild, traded away all their established starting pitchers, and rolled out an entire brigade of rookie starter that allowed more earned runs than there are grains of sand in the Sahara?

Yeah. That was the opposite of enjoyable, and it lasted for some three full years.

Well, out of those ashes has risen a pretty dang talented group of starters for the Reds these days, and none has been more consistent and effective than Tyler Mahle. On Friday against the Chicago Cubs, Mahle was at work doing his thing once again, firing 6.2 innings of 1 ER ball against the Baby Bears, never once looking off his rocker in the process.

He allowed 5 hits and a pair of walks in his time, fanning 4 in his 103 pitch outing. In 3 total starts against the Cubs this year, he’s now allowed just 5 ER in 18.2 IP, which is a solid way to make an impression in this competitive-as-hell NL Central. Heck - he even added a walk at the plate, for good measure. Congrats, Tyler, and here’s to keeping that up.

Honorable Mentions are due to: Billy Hamilton, who had a 3 hit day, walked,scored a run, and chipped in with yet another great catch in CF; Jose Peraza, who had a pair of hits and swiped his 15th bag of the season; and Raisel Iglesias, who hammered down a 5-out save.

Key Plays

  • The Reds lit up the scoreboard first in this one, plating a pair in the Top of the 4th courtesy of the heart of the batting order. Scooter Gennett walked, Joey Votto singled, Eugenio Suarez was tapped slightly by an inside pitch to load the bases, and Gennett then scored on Adam Duvall’s hard single into CF. Votto then came in to score on a 4-6-3 double-play ball hit into by Scott Schebler, which left the Reds up, 2-0.
  • Billy singled up the middle to open the Top of the 5th, and he motored around to 3B after Peraza followed with a single of his own. That helped get a run in, as Scooter followed with a deep sac-fly to the RF wall to score Billy, and the Reds were up, 3-0.
  • The Cubs dinked their way to a run in the Bottom of the 5th. Willson Contreras looped a soft liner just over the head of Votto at 1B into no-man’s land, and turned it into a hustle double. he then moved to 3B on a productive ground-out, and after Tommy La Stella reached on catcher’s interference, Contreras scored on an Albert Almora ground-out to SS that the Reds couldn’t quite turn into an inning-ending double play. Reds led, 3-1.
  • Javy Baez poked a single into RF off Michael Lorenzen to begin a mini-rally for the Cubs in the Bottom of the 8th, and Anthony Rizzo followed with a single up the middle off lefty Kyle Crockett that left runners on the corners. Ben Zobrist then lifted a sac-fly to CF off Raisel Iglesias - who Jim Riggleman turned to with only 1-out in the inning - but that fortunately ended a batter later. Reds led, 3-2, and that’s how things eventually ended.

Tony Graphanino

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • The 6.2 IP thrown by Mahle marks his career-high for a single game.
  • With Billy Hamilton on 1B in the Top of the 9th and nobody out, Jose Peraza tried twice to get down a bunt, and failed before his groundout to SS moved Billy to 2B anyway. Then, Scooter Gennett tried to lay down a bunt as the next hitter up. I have no idea if either was prompted by Jim Riggleman, but if either was - much less both - well, I’ve got a blender to go puree my brain in.
  • The wind was blowing in at Wrigley today, and there were several balls hit by both sides that just seemed to die as they carried into the OF. I’d wager we’ll see at least one game this weekend that’ll feature the exact opposite scenario, in case you’re one of those fans who’s all about some dingers.
  • Matt Harvey and Tyler Chatwood will do work for their respective squads as the starting pitchers on Saturday, as the Reds and Cubs will tussle again beginning at 2:20 PM ET tomorrow.
  • Tunes.