Reds bang out 45 hits in weekend series, finish off sweep of Cubs
The Cubs were hoping to get pointed in the right direction this weekend, but instead watched Cincinnati pound out double-digit hits in every game and complete a sweep.
The Reds piled up 14 hits on Sunday in an 8-5 victory at Wrigley Field, giving them a total of 45 hits in the three games, pushing the Cubs deeper into last place in the NL Central.
"The Reds are a team, they just grind people," said Drew Smyly, Sunday's losing pitcher. "They grind the pitchers. They're not going to slug you and hit a bunch of homers, but they don't chase, they take their singles, they steal bases. You saw it all weekend, they make pitchers work for sure."
Wait a minute. Isn't Smyly describing what the Cubs were supposed to be this season?
It's tough to describe everything that's gone wrong for the Cubs, who are now 8-20 since April 28. During this series, none of the three Cubs starting pitchers was able to complete 5 innings, which led to extended work for the struggling bullpen and plenty more damage.
But at least the bullpen ERA in this series (6.42) was better than the starters (9.69).
"It's pretty frustrating," Smyly said. "We're just not really clicking right now, not putting all three phases of the game together at the same time. It was an ugly weekend for us. The Reds came in and beat us up."
When the Cubs got off to a relatively strong start to the season, Patrick Wisdom and Cody Bellinger were the top run-producers. Now Bellinger is on the injured list with a knee bruise and Wisdom was hitting under .200 in May.
Wisdom finally broke out of his slump Sunday by hitting 2 home runs and driving in all 5 Cubs runs. He hadn't homered since May 10, but now has 14 on the season.
"We've got some time left," Wisdom said. "We've got a lot of games to play, we've got some good teams to face, but I look forward to the battle ahead."
When the Cubs lost Saturday's game by the same score, the top three hitters in the lineup -- Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson and Ian Happ -- accounted for all 5 runs. On Sunday, those three went 2-for-14, while the bottom of the order did all the damage. Besides Wisdom's home runs, Trey Mancini had 2 hits, including a double; and Palatine native Mike Tauchman had his first 3-hit game since 2020 when he played for the Yankees.
While the pitching has gone a bit sideways, the Cubs have also lacked consistent run producers at the plate, the way Wisdom and Bellinger delivered in April. Besides Wisdom, the Cubs went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Meanwhile, five different Reds collected at least 2 hits, with rookie shortstop Matt McLain going 4-for-5.
"I think guys are still having their at-bats," Cubs manager David Ross said. "We continue to give up runs, it's taking a toll on the offense, right? We score a 3-spot, give it right back to tie it up. We feel like we've got to hold a lead for longer than an inning and we haven't done a good job of that of late."
The Cubs led 3-1 in the second inning after Wisdom's first home run, but trailed 8-3 by the time he hit the second. On Saturday, they led 4-1 early.
Next up is a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays, who own the best record in MLB, followed by a 10-game West Coast trip.
"I don't think the opponent matters, to be honest," Smyly said. "If we come out and play our best baseball, it doesn't matter who we're playing. The Rays are the best team in baseball and we're going to take a long road trip after that, but you can look at the schedule from here on out, every team's pretty good.
"There's a lot of talent in this league. You have to perform, you have to do your job and right now we're just not doing it."