Happ's home run, collision tell story of Cubs' high-scoring loss

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs center fielder Ian Happ, center, is carted off after a collision with teammate Nico Hoerner, foreground, in the eighth inning Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati.

    Chicago Cubs center fielder Ian Happ, center, is carted off after a collision with teammate Nico Hoerner, foreground, in the eighth inning Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 5/2/2021 7:31 PM

The answer to creating more offense in major league baseball has been found.

Just play every game during the day in Cincinnati. It might help if the Cubs and Reds pitching staffs are involved.

 

Those teams played a crazy slugfest Sunday, featuring a combined 10 home runs. The Reds finally won 13-12 in 10 innings as the Cubs fell to 2-7 in their last nine games.

"Just a great game," said Kris Bryant, who homered twice. "I know we didn't win, but if I'm a fan going to a baseball game, that's what I want to see. It was fun for the fans to see that much offense. We don't need 1-0 pitchers' duels."

From the Cubs' perspective, this game took a couple of decisive swings during the eighth inning with a pair of plays by Ian Happ.

The Cubs trailed 12-8 at the start of the inning, but tied it on a 3-run homer by Happ. To start off the game, Happ doubled on the very first pitch from Reds starter Tyler Mahle, which was Happ's first extra-base hit since he homered in Pittsburgh on April 4.

Happ finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate with 3 RBI, which was a nice change of pace after his early-season slump.

But in the bottom of the eighth, Happ collided with second baseman Nico Hoerner as both players chased a shallow pop fly. Hoerner made the catch and Happ slid underneath him, but Hoerner's arm appeared to strike Happ in the face and give him a bloody nose. A dazed Happ stayed on the ground for a couple minutes and eventually rode a cart off the field.

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"I talked to Ian. He feels fine, pretty good blow to the face," manager David Ross said. "I haven't heard the doctor's report yet, but I did talk to Ian and he's in good spirits."

So it appears the collision is not something that will keep Happ sidelined, but it left the Cubs short-handed for the rest of Sunday's game. Starter Trevor Williams was pulled in the third inning, which led to the Cubs using eight pitchers total, along with several pinch hitters.

So when Happ left the game, the only position player still on the bench was Willson Contreras, who took two days off with a sore quad. Contreras came in to catch, catcher Tony Wolters went to second base and Hoerner to the outfield.

When the game reached the top of the 10th, the Cubs used pitcher Jake Arrieta as a pinch-hitter. The Cubs ended up making no contact in the 10th, with Jason Heyward, Wolters and Arrieta all striking out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The game then ended quickly when Nicholas Castellanos singled home the automatic runner against Craig Kimbrel. It was a tough way for Kimbrel's streak of 18 straight scoreless appearances to end, but that's the way it goes.

As Ross pointed out, the Cubs wouldn't have run out of players if they'd gotten a longer outing from the starting pitcher. None of the three Cubs starters in this weekend series made it to the fifth inning.

"Especially on a long road trip like this, we really need to do better as a rotation and we know that," Williams said. "We really do. We're really looking for that one guy to start it. Kyle (Hendricks) is the perfect guy (Monday) to do that. Once that gets going, it's just going to snowball and it's going to become contagious."

The other Cubs home runs were from Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez. Bryant moved into a tie for the major league lead with his ninth of the season and went 3-for-5 to boost his batting average to .323.

"It felt like a playoff game, to be honest with you," Ross said. "Back and forth, intense, nobody giving in, guys continue to fight. I'm so proud of my team. That was one of the more intense games I've probably ever been a part of, especially as a manager. These guys didn't give away an at-bat, I didn't feel like today."

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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