Ross was ejected late in the loss (Kareem Elgazzar - USA Today Sports)
Ross was ejected late in the loss (Kareem Elgazzar - USA Today Sports)

Game Recap: Hendricks struggles, Ross tossed in loss to Reds


by - Senior Writer -

CINCINNATI - By now, I think most can safely assume that the best days of Kyle Hendricks are behind.

Going back to the second half of last season and the start of this season, the Chicago Cubs (18-25) right-hander has an ERA of 5.57, which is not good. To put that into perspective, he never had a season with an ERA above 4.00 up until last season. Things have gotten progressively worse for him as he fell to 2-5 on the season after losing to the Reds 4-3.

Hendricks allowed four runs in just four innings and has seen his ERA rise to 5.20, the worst ERA on the starting staff. He looks far from it for a guy who was being counted on to be the ace.

Speaking of aces who have been struggling, Luis Castillo is a prime example of that, as he has yet to return to his pre-2021 form. Despite a 1-2 record and 4.35 ERA, Castillo has gotten better with each passing start and was on top of his game Wednesday. After allowing a pair of first-inning runs, Castillo bounced back to keep the Cubs off the board the next four innings as he allowed two runs on four hits in five innings. His one walk to six strikeouts was also a good sign if you are a Reds fan, as he appears to be turning the corner for the better.

The lone blemish for Castillo came in the first inning, where the Cubs continued to score early and often against this team. A leadoff walk by Christopher Morel was a great start as he would advance to third on the one out Seiya Suzuki single. Ian Happ continued his Great American Ballpark mastery with runners on the corners, driving one off the wall in left for an RBI double and a quick 2-0 lead.

Ross was ejected late in the loss (Kareem Elgazzar - USA Today Sports)
Ross was ejected late in the loss (Kareem Elgazzar - USA Today Sports)"

Considering how fast the Cubs started, you had to like their chances of running away with this one, but that was not the case as their bats went quiet while the Reds were heating up. When you talk about slow starts, Joey Votto may be off to the worst start of his career as he entered Wednesday, hitting under .160 and with just one homer.

If there were a team for him to get back on track against, it would be the Cubs, as his career numbers off of them are great. You saw things turning for the better over the first two games of the series, but things began to click in the third game as he mashed a Hendricks fastball over the right-field fence in the second inning to cut the Cubs lead to 2-1. That was the first homer of the year for Votto at home, as his struggles have been a mystery this season.

With Castillo striking out the side in the third and seemingly getting better every inning, you had Hendricks, who was getting worse, which was on full display during the bottom of the third. Not only did he allow singles to Aramis Garcia and Matt Reynolds to open up the inning, but Hendricks command was shaky as he found himself missing a ton of spots.

That led to a two-out game-tying single from Tommy Pham before Votto cashed in with another huge hit and legged out an RBI triple as the Reds took a 4-2 lead. Hendricks was pulled at just 68 pitches one inning later as the Cubs bullpen was set to take over, and take over they did.

Not only did the pen give the Cubs a chance to win, but they kept the Reds scoreless the rest of the way as Daniel Norris was the first out and gave the Cubs his best outing of the season. He needed to, as the Cubs had their chances to score across the next two innings only to come up empty.

“I thought we had good at-bats all night,” Ross said after the game. “They made some pitches … [the Reds’] bullpen did a really nice job. We had a lot of traffic early on. We scratched some [runs] across early and didn't do much after that, but the at-bats in the ninth were really good. [Our] guys continued to fight.”

Norris gave way to Mychal Givens in the seventh before Rowan Wick took over in the eighth. Things got a little chippy as Wick threw up and in to Votto causing both benches to exchange some unkind words. No harm, No foul, at least not yet, as Wick got the game to the ninth 4-2. Needing offense in a hurry, Patrick Wisdom took one for the team as he got drilled by a Hunter Strickland fastball in the forearm. David Ross was not happy with the intent of that and voiced his displeasure before getting ejected from the game.

An Alfons Rivas walk followed that hit by pitch as the stage was set for Willson Contreas. Entering the game as a pinch hitter, Contreras came inches away from tying things up as Nick Senzel dropped him of extra bases to keep the score tied. However, all was not lost as Nico Hoerner returned to the lineup and flared a single to right as the Cubs were within 4-3. The Reds would win by that score as Strickland recovered to finish things off for his first save of the season.

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