CHICAGO - For the first time in a long time, the Cincinnati Reds did not find themselves buried in an early hole in a baseball game. Instead, the finally did some early damage against an opposing starter on Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field, giving the ol’ concept of ‘playing with a lead’ a try.
Back to back singles from the indomitable duo of Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos set the stage for a 3-run Top of the 1st, with the small-ball trio of a sac-fly, HBP, and infield single later help plate runs off Jake Arrieta in a grueling start for the former Cy Young winner. That gave starter Tyler Mahle - an absolute dynamo outside the cramped confines of GABP - a buffer to let loose, and the talented young righty responded in kind to spearhead a 5-1 Reds victory.
The Reds eventually added another pair of runs to Arrieta’s ledger, one on a Eugenio Suarez blast that exited the entirety of the stadium in flight. That gives Geno an OPS of roughly .800 with 7 dingers over his last 20 games played, and while there are still many problems with his overall game these days, at least the prodigious power has finally begun to emerge again.
Meanwhile, Mahle took a perfect game into the 5th inning, and after fighting a classically ridiculous Joe West strike zone his day ended there - 5 IP, H, BB, 8 K on 98 largely brilliant pitches. He seems to have jettisoned all memory of that hellacious outing against San Francisco from back on the homestand, and we’re all better for it.
Amir Garrett (1 IP), Lucas Sims (1 IP), and Tejay Antone (1.1 IP) did the rest of the heaviest lifting, with Antone coming on to bail out a bases-loaded jam in the Bottom of the 8th that had been created with Cionel Perez (0.2 IP, ER) on the bump. No matter, though, as Antone carried the torch to the finish in impressive fashion once again.
The Reds will head back home after losing this series with an even .500 road trip, and will open a series against the Philadelphia Phillies early on Monday with a matinee start. They’ll welcome Wade Miley back off the IL as the starter, too.