Whenever the Chicago Cubs need a player or two, they reach down into their minor league system and pluck out a star. And if they are playing the Cincinnati Reds they seem to become instant superstars.
It is if they grow them in the cornfields outside of Des Moines.
On Tuesday night in Wrigley Field, there were two guys called up in the last week that did major damage to the Reds during a 9-5 Cubs victory.
IT WAS IAN HAPP AND Jeimer Candelerio on this night and Happ’s contribution was particularly painful.
He played his collegiate baseball at the University of Cincinnati where he was an All-American and the Cubs No. 1 draft pick in 2015.
He was playing his third major league game and hit his second home run. He also walked, drove in two runs and scored two.
Candelario was 1 for 17 when the night began but had two hits and drove in a run.
AND, OF COURSE, THE established stars did their usual damage to the Reds — Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
Schwarber, the Middletown native, had two hits, including a 462-foot home run, scored two and drove in one.
Bryant had two hits, scored a run and drove in a run — his 36th RBI in 38 games against the Reds.
Rizzo, a power-hitter who hadn’t homered in 54 at bats, hit a home run, his fourth in four games against the Reds this season.
WITH A STIFF 20 MILES an hour wind blowing out, the Reds hit three home runs — Zack Cozart, Tucker Barnhart (his first of the year) and Joey Votto (hit team-leading 11th), but it wasn’t enough.
The Cubs, though, trumped that with four home runs.
The Reds took a quick lead in the first inning against John Lackey when Cozart homered in the first inning, the seventh straight game in which the Reds scored in the first. But it hasn’t been enough. They’ve now lost four straight.
That 1-0 lead lasted only until the bottom of the first when the Cubs scored three off Bronson Arroyo.
AFTER HE RETIRED SCHWARBER, he gave up a single and two walks to fill the bases. Candelario singled for a run and with two outs Wilson Contreras doubled for two more and a 3-1 Cubs lead.
The Reds cut it to 3-2 in the second on Barnhart’s home run. The Cubs retrieved that run in the bottom of the second when Schwarber, batting .179, nearly cleared the right field bleachers with his 462-foot blast.
The Reds crept back to within one in the fourth when Scott Schebler walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch on which Arroyo struck out.
And once again the Cubs retrieved that run when they came to bat in the fifth, this one on Happ’s home run to push Chicago back to a 5-3 lead.
ARROYO LEFT AFTER FIVE, giving up five runs, eight hits, two walks and two home runs. The Reds had won the last five games Arroyo started but that ended on this night.
Blake Wood replaced Arroyo and the Cubs scored two against him in the sixth on a run-scoring single by Bryant and a bases loaded walk by Wood that pushed the score to 7-3.
Votto’s two-run home run in the seventh put the Reds back in contention, 7-5, but Addison Russell led the seventh with a home run off Robert Stephenson and the Cubs closed the scoring in the eighth when Rizzo homered off Michael Lorenzen.
The fourth straight loss dropped the Reds back to .500 at 19-19 and the defending World Series champion Cubs scrambled back to .500 at 19-19 to tie the Reds for third and fourth place.