If ever there was evidence as to the difference between a good baseball team and a mediocre or bad baseball team, it was on display Wednesday night in Wrigley Field.
The Cincinnati Reds loaded the bases in the first inning with no outs. They scored one run.
The Chicago Cubs filled the bases with one out in the first inning. They scored five runs.
THE REDS PUT two runners on with no outs in the third inning. They scored no runs.
The Cubs filled the bases with no outs in the third inning and scored two runs.
With those kinds of numbers it is no wonder the Cubs put it to the Reds, 9-2.
After the Reds gave starter Alfredo Simon the 1-0 lead in the first, he was declared a disaster area in the bottom of the first.
FOR THE FIRST time in his career, Simon didn’t get out of the first inning. He threw 49 pitches to get two outs and he walked three straight at one point.
And the pitchers that followed were no better. Simon, Dan Straily and Keyvius Sampson combined to throw 142 pitches to get through five innings.
For the night, Reds pitchers threw 188 pitches, only 103 for strikes.
ONE OF THE THINGS manager Bryan Price emphasized during spring training was that his tolerance for walks was very low.
His tolerance was tested to the nth degree on this night when Reds pitchers walked 10 Cubs. Mix in seven walks in Monday’s 5-3 loss and Reds pitchers walked 17 in two games.
“It’s tough to watch 10 walks and a hit batter,” said Price on his post-game show with Fox Sports Ohio. “When you only get outhit by one (eight to seven) and lose by seven runs you know walks were involved.”
Billy Hamilton swung at the first pitch of the game delivered by John Lackey and doubled to the right field corner. Eugenio Suarez singled to move Hamilton to third and Joey Votto walked.
Lackey was in a cavernous hole with the bases loaded and no outs. But Brandon Phillips struck out, Jay Bruce hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Hamilton and Scott Schebler grounded out.
Now it was the Cubs turn again Simon.
Dexter Fowler doubled, but Simon struck out Jason Heyward. Might he get out of it? Not when you walk the next three batters to force in a run.
Miguel Montero singled for a run to make it 2-1. Jorge Soler hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1 and with two outs Simon could have limited the damage.
Instead, he gave up a run-scoring single to Addison Russell to make it 4-1 and then pitcher John Lackey, owning a career .105 average, hit a two-strike single to score another run that ended Simon’s long, long two-thirds of an inning.
THE CUBS SCORED two more in the third against Straily when he walked two and Heyward, who struck out twice in the first inning, ripped a two-run single to make it 7-1.
By then the Reds were dead and funeral services were being conducted. They had three hits in the first three innings and only four more the rest of the way.
They pushed across a second run in the seventh on Schebler’s leadoff triple and an RBI ground ball out by Ivan DeJesus Jr.
The Reds were without both shortstop Zack Cozart and catcher Devin Mesoraco, both of whom had slight tweaks in Monday’s game. Both say they are OK and shouldn’t miss any more time. That, though, remains to be seen when the Reds try to rescue one win in the conclusion of the three-game series Thursday night.