Strop falls apart as Cubs suffer late-game collapse versus Reds
|Thursday, August 24, 2017, 10:38 PM- -|
CINCINNATI – In the first two matchups of the three-game series between old National League Central foes the Chicago Cubs and the Cinncinati Reds, the Reds' bullpen heavily contributed to the Cubs claiming a pair of victories. In the third and final game in the Queen City, however, the tables turned, with Cubs relief pitcher Pedro Strop suffering through a tumultuous three-run eighth inning that resulted in the Cubs wasting a solid start by ace Jake Arrieta and losing 4-2.
Rookie Cubs sensation set the tone for Chicago early, skying a solo home run just over the wall in right field to put the Cubs up 1-0 in the second inning. The 19th homer of the year for Happ, the shot off of Reds starter Sal Romano barely cleared the wall in right. With the exception of Happ's dinger, hitting was at a premium through the first five innings, as the young Romano and the experienced Arrieta went tit for tat on the mound, with both earning several strikeouts in the early goings.
Ian Happ takes the first pitch he sees over the fence to put the Cubs up early! pic.twitter.com/QSa7YddE0G— Cubs Talk (@CSNCubs) August 24, 2017
The Cubs' lone defensive blemish in the first half of the contest came in the fourth on a costly error by third baseman Kris Bryant, his 15th of the season. A misplayed grounder, the mistake led to shortstop Zack Cosart scoring on a single by first baseman Joey Votto later in the inning.
The Cubs would go on to retake the lead in the sixth, with Bryant redeeming himself by collecting a one-out double and scoring soon afterward via a single from hot-hitting infielder Javier Baez. Meanwhile, as the Cubs' offense came alive, Arrieta began to struggle, with the righty avoiding trouble in the fifth only because of a failed sacrifice bunt by Romano that ruined the Reds' chances of scoring. Arrieta was not given the opportunity to escape trouble in the following inning, though, as he was yanked with the bases loaded and two outs, finishing with a stat line of four hits, one run and eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched.
If not for an amazing relay play between Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber and Baez that resulted in Cosart being thrown out at home, the bottom of the sixth could have resulted in the Cubs losing their lead, but, instead, Cubs reliever Brian Duensing was able to take over for Arrieta and out his first batter, enabling the Cubs to escape the jam unscathed. However, after wasting a double by leadoff hitter Ben Zobrist, who went 2-4, in the seventh, the Cubs went cold offensively, causing their luck to run out.
The relay throw by Javy Baez nails Cozart at home. pic.twitter.com/HiBIyEetkq— Kevin Marchina (@kg_holler) August 25, 2017
The wishy-washy Strop began the eighth well, outing the first two batters. From that point on, he was a different pitcher, as he was charged with a single, a double, an intentional walk and a ground rule double in the next four at-bats. The ground rule double, which was batted by Reds pinch hitter Jose Peraza, scored two for Cincinnati, putting the Reds ahead 3-2. Thereafter, Strop continued his downfall by throwing a wild pitch that allowed another Cincinnati runner to score.
In the ninth, the Cubs had an opportunity to benefit from the services of a pinch hitter, as well, as pinch hitter Jon Jay knocked a one-out single to center. Unfortunately for Chicago, Jay was caught stealing during the next at-bat, leading to the Cubs coming up short. Falling 4-2, the Cubs, by way of losing pitcher Strop (3-4), wasted a golden opportunity to earn a sweep over the lowly Reds. Instead, thanks to Strop's woes and the offense's 11 strikeouts, the Cubs had their five-game win streak snapped, falling to 68-58 overall in the process.