Cubs’ offense capitalizes on Reds mistake to win series over division rival
David Ross might’ve put it best Wednesday night.
“We’re not going down 1-2-3,” Ross said.
With two outs in the 3rd inning Thursday night, Nico Hoerner swung and missed at strike three from starter Luke Weaver in the dirt, but the second baseman sprung out of the box and reached first as catcher Luke Maile struggled to locate the ball.
“I think their guy thought he made the pitch to be out of the inning, which he did,” Thursday’s starter Jameson Taillon said. “[Hoerner] hustled and we just made something out of nothing, which is awesome. I feel like we’re a team that has to kinda do those kinda things. We built it.
“We’re not gonna give you free outs.”
The Cubs aren’t going down without a fight. And if you give this offense an inch, they’ll take 90 feet — again and again and again.
After Hoerner reached, the next 5 Cubs hitters reached — four on walks — and the Cubs took a 3-run lead that they wouldn’t look back from en route to a 5-3 win over the Reds. The Cubs took 3 of 4 from Cincinnati and trail Milwaukee by just 3 games in the NL Central and the Reds by 2 in the wild card. The Cubs outscored the Reds 46-24 in the 4-game set.
“It was huge,” Taillon said. “The fans were electric. It was packed. I don’t think I’ve seen night games here that electric. All in all, just a really good series.”
Ian Happ followed Hoerner’s strikeout with a 4-pitch walk, bringing up the reigning NL Player of the Month, Cody Bellinger. He delivered an RBI-single to right field that plated Hoerner. Dansby Swanson followed with a walk to load the bases for Christopher Morel.
“It was a big moment,” Morel said through team translator Fredy Quevedo Jr. “Big moment for the team, so I was just tried to gain my composure, breathe, relax and just as always, go out there and try to give it my best every time.”
Weaver looked to have minimized the damage, taking an 0-2 lead on Morel. But Morel showcased his maturity at the plate, taking two pitches off the plate and then a slider in the dirt, before spitting on a cutter up and away to drive in another run on the walk.
“He’s getting mature,” Ross said. “Got aggressive early on, [Weaver] made some pitches and then really tried to hone in on his zone, see the slider up. It looked like he did a nice job just laying off some tough chase, not getting too aggressive, letting the moment come to him and then stays off that high one late. Really nice at-bat.
“Probably the game changer. He continues to take those big walks.”
Jeimer Candelario followed with a walk to make it 4-1, leading Reds’ manager David Bell to argue with home plate umpire Derek Thomas, who ejected Bell.
“We worked a bunch of walks, that was pretty cool,” Taillon said. “Obviously, we’ve kinda gotten into their bullpen early the last few nights and then to be able to do it again tonight, I feel like was a luxury.”
The Reds jumped on the Cubs from the jump, with Elly De La Cruz homering on the first pitch of the game. It didn’t faze the Cubs.
“It almost felt, in a weird way like they scored and it felt like a relief,” Ross said. “I don’t know, like, ‘Here we go, we’re back and slugging.’… It felt like that this series.”
The Cubs were up for the task. Hoerner and Happ hit back-to-back doubles in the 1st to tie the game.
And Taillon really settled into a groove. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the 2nd and finished his night allowing just 2 runs in 5+ innings of work.
“I feel like a night tonight, I grinded, kept us in the game and then our bullpen just had an electric night,” Taillon said. “So I just feel like we did a lot of different things well and kinda highlighted what we can do going forward.”
The Cubs showed they didn’t need to have a historic night offensively to beat the Reds, with Mark Leiter Jr., Julian Merryweather and Adbert Alzolay combining to shut down a potent Reds’ lineup over the final 12 outs to send a message to the rest of the division that they’re here to compete.
“That was huge. Especially because that’s one of the teams who’s spot we’re trying to take,” Morel said. “I just keep praying to God that it just keeps going well for us just as it has been. That’s what we’re trying to do as a team.”