Cubs Earn Sweep with Throttling of Reds
|Wednesday, June 29, 2016, 4:03 PM- -|
With one swing of the bat in the top of the first inning, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo dropped the Cincinnati Reds into a deep hole that proved impossible to climb out of. On a freak play, Rizzo hit a catchable ball to left-center, but left fielder Adam Duvall and center fielder Billy Hamilton crossed paths in their routes to the baseball, likely causing Hamilton to lose sight of the ball. As a result, Hamilton was hit squarely in the face by the descending baseball, and Rizzo was able to score on a three-run inside the park home run, his 19th homer of the season. From there, Chicago never looked back, winning 9-2 on the day.
Thankfully, Hamilton was able to stand up and walk off of the field under his own power, but he departed from the game due to injury concerns. Though the play was marred by Hamilton’s unfortunate injury, it provided the Cubs with a 3-0 lead, as second baseman Ben Zobrist and third baseman Kris Bryant had reached base by way of singles prior to Rizzo’s round-tripper.
Cruising to a victory, the Cubs swept the Reds in the three-game series at the Great American Ballpark. Starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks was solid for Chicago, only giving up two runs in 6.2 innings pitched and striking out five. Earning the win for today’s game, Hendricks is now 6-6 on the year with a 2.76 ERA.
In the top of the third, Cubs rookie catcher Willson Contreras continued his torrid performance at the plate that has perfectly accentuated the start of his Major League career, coming through with a clutch two-out double that scored Zobrist from first, which marked his second run of the game. Contreras was then brought home himself by way of a single off the bat of second baseman Javier Baez that put the Cubs up 5-0.
The Cubs extended their sizable lead in the ensuing inning, when two solo home runs of the outside the park variety provided them with a 7-0 lead. Shortstop Addison Russell and center fielder Albert Almora both homered over the center field wall and essentially made Chicago’s lead insurmountable for Cincinnati to overcome. Duvall hit a homer for the Reds in the bottom of the fourth, and third baseman Eugenio Suarez crossed the plate on a groundout later in the inning. But the Reds never threatened the Cubs’ vast lead. The Cubs added two more runs in the seventh, one of which came via a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Hendricks, and ended up winning by a final tally of 9-2.
The sweep was much-needed for the Cubs, who had dropped six out of their last seven games coming into this series. The Cubs moved to 51-26 with Wednesday’s victory, becoming the first National League team to surpass 50 victories on the year. They also raised their lead in the NL Central to 10.5 games over the St. Louis Cardinals (40-36). As for the Reds, they remain last in the NL Central at 29-50, sitting 23 games behind the Cubs. The Cubs will continue their 11-game road trip tomorrow, as they are set to begin a four-game series at the New York Mets (40-36).