Streak of not being shut out is so over: Reds outclub Steele, Cubs for 9-0 win

When the Cubs beat the Mets twice in a row, it was natural to think the Cubs could use this homestand to turn their season in the right direction.

Two days later, the answer is trending toward, "Maybe not."

The Cubs were outscored 9-0 and outhit 19-2 by the Cincinnati Reds on Friday at Wrigley Field. Justin Steele had a rough day on the mound, the Cubs couldn't touch Reds starter Hunter Greene and their streak of not being shut out to start the season ended at 49 games.

Since winning the series opener at Minnesota on May 12, the Cubs have not only gone 3-9, but they've been astonishingly outscored 85-43.

Any chance of getting the Oakland A's back on the schedule?

It's easy to credit the player on the mound, but this is three times in the last five games a struggling pitcher has delivered his best outing of the season against the Cubs - Greene, the Mets' Carlos Carrasco and Phillies' Taijuan Walker.

In his four previous starts this month, Greene allowed 7 home runs and had an ERA of 6.95. On Friday, he tossed a hitless 6 innings with 11 strikeouts.

"The 99 fastball up was tough to get on top of," Cubs manager David Ross said. "Guys worked the count I thought pretty well early on, got his pitch count up. Just weren't able to capitalize and win the at-bat."

Greene, 23, was the No. 2 overall pick of the 2017 draft. He threw 15 pitches at least 99 miles per hour, according to Statcast, and averaged 98.3 mph with his fastball. The only negative was it took him 110 pitches to finish 6 innings.

"I just think filling up the zone was super important today and continuing to be aggressive," Greene said. "Obviously the guys came out swinging right away. So that put me in a better mentality to fill up the zone and just compete."

The only good news for the Cubs was Christopher Morel singled leading off the eighth against reliever Eduardo Salazar to break up the no-hitter. A no-hitter would have made this miserable game a little bit memorable, but the Cubs are proud of their streak of getting no-hit just once in 68 years.

Miles Mastrobuoni added a second single two batters later, but that was the end of the Cubs' offense. Four different Reds collected 3 hits - Matt McLain, Spencer Steer, Tyler Stephenson and Stuart Fairchild.

Ross said he didn't think Steele's slider had as much bite as it typically does, but Steele felt it was more about the opposing hitters.

"In the bullpen leading into the game and even throughout the game, I felt like I had my stuff, felt like I was executing pitches," Steele said. "I felt like I was commanding my four-seam and making pitches. I just felt like the other team was doing a good job of battling stuff off.

"Throughout the game, I threw some good sliders and it felt like they were doing a good job of just fouling it off, barely getting a barrel on it. So it kind of made me feel whether or not to throw it or try something else. I just think they were doing a good job of doing their job, making me work out there."

Steele's season ERA is still a very solid 2.77. On Saturday, the Cubs will turn to Jameson Taillon and are 0-7 in games he starts.

With a 22-28 record, the Cubs are certainly teetering. After Cincinnati leaves town, the MLB-leading Tampa Bay Rays will visit for three games. Then the Cubs hit the road for a 10-game West Coast swing with stops in San Diego, Anaheim and San Francisco.

Another loss to the Reds and the Cubs will drop into last place in the NL Central, and they're just one game ahead of Washington for the worst record in the National League.

The adjectives will keep getting worse if the Cubs don't turn this around soon.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

When baseball was king on WGN-TV

Fremd grad Tauchman finally gets chance to play at Wrigley

Stroman dominates on windy night, Cubs beat Mets again

Hoyer sees Astros bullpen as model for Cubs to follow

Appendectomy lands Downers Grove native Burdi on Cubs' injured list

Hendricks returns to mound, but Cubs deliver dismal performance

Cubs reliever Burdi hoping to make quick recovery from appendectomy

Cubs send Madrigal to Iowa, hope to get his swing on track

Former Cubs prospect sought in connection with fatal shooting

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Hunter Greene throws during the first inning Friday against the Cubs. He dominated the Cubs, though his pitch count got high. Associated press
Cincinnati Reds' Jose Barrero slides past Cubs catcher Tucker Barnhart to score during the ninth inning. Associated press
Cincinnati Reds center fielder Jose Barrero, left, and Will Benson collide in the outfield during the ninth inning. Associated press
Chicago Bears rookie Darnell Wright throws out a ceremonial first pitch before the game in Chicago. Associated press
Chicago Bears rookie Gervon Dexter throws out a ceremonial first pitch before the game in Chicago. Associated press
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.