Despite loss, positive feelings remain for Cubs
There was -- dare we say -- a bit of a festive atmosphere around Wrigley Field Tuesday night, despite a 3-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.
Fans heading down the jammed ramps were talking about "winning tomorrow."
That's what a little hope will do.
The Cubs again gave themselves and their fans a little hope late in a game. Trailing 3-0 in the eighth inning, they touched former teammate Kevin Gregg with a pair of runs when pinch-hitter Welington Castillo hit a 2-run homer to left field.
They put two men on in the ninth against smoke-throwing lefty Aroldis Chapman, but David Ross and Mike Olt couldn't touch Chapman, each striking out to end the game.
Results, not effort, count in professional sports, but Cubs manager Joe Maddon could find no fault with players' effort.
"If we keep giving that kind of effort all year long, we'll be very happy," said Maddon, whose team fell to 4-3 and out of its short stay in first place. "Good things are going to happen."
Castillo, the Cubs' starting catcher in the last couple of losing seasons, isn't happy about coming off the bench, but so far he's made the most of it. How did he get it done Tuesday night?
"I don't know," he said. "Honestly, I don't know. I just went there like nothing happened. Just see the ball and hit the ball."
Castillo has seen a lot of losing with the Cubs, but he says he sees something different about this edition.
"Yeah, we're a lot (more) positive this year," he said. "We have a lot of guys with the right mentality. I think that's the mentality we need to win games."
The Cubs sent last year's ace, Jake Arrieta, against the Reds' Anthony DeSclafani. Arrieta was perfect through the first three innings, but the Reds sent eight to the plate in the fourth, scoring 3 runs on 5 hits. But not a whole lot was hit particularly hard.
"I think there were three or four balls that just kind of squeaked through," said Arrieta, who fell to 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA after working 6⅔ innings. "It was (Jay) Bruce and (Marlon) Byrd back to back (with RBI singles). Two broken bats that just kind of got through there for 2 runs. Other than that, I was able to limit the damage and hold us there, get deep enough.
"Wellie came up with a huge swing of the bat. We were right there. We were one swing away."
DeSclafani (1-0. 1.38 ERA) worked 7 shutout innings of 2-hit ball before the Reds had to sweat one out. Gregg walked pinch hitter Matt Szczur leading off the eighth before Castillo followed with his first homer of the year and his first career pinch homer.
Maddon has a juggling act on his hands with catchers, with Miguel Montero and Ross getting time at the expense of Castillo.
"I know he doesn't like it; I don't want him to like it, actually," Maddon said. "He's really good That's what I felt all along. His last 3 pinch hits, the ball has been hit hard every time -- some really big knocks. Again, I think it indicates how good of a player he can be given an opportunity."