Friday, April 20, 2012
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from the warm comfort of The Man Cave and remembering how covering early-season games in Wrigley Field can be like covering the great outdoors in Fairbanks, Alaska.
The Cincinnati Reds walked into a Perfect Storm in Wrigley Field and it had nothing to do with a 45-degree temperature and winds off Lake Michigan at 30 miles an hour, forcing manager Dusty Baker to spend his time in the dugout donning a hoodie and gloves.
The Chicago Cubs were on a five-game losing streak, had won only three games all season, had scored 10 runs in their last five games and their starting pitcher, Chris Volstad hadn’t won a game in his last 13 starts.
And the Reds took aggressive advantage, putting this game under ‘W’ in the first inning while the Cubs stood afield with their fingers freezing fast.
The Reds scored four runs in the top of the first and tacked a few on while preventing the Cubs from pecking away, an 9-4 Reds victory.
Suddenly hot Drew Stubbs had three hits for the second straight game and drive in three runs. And catcher Devin Mesoraco was on base four times.
Homer Bailey gave up one earned run and five hits in seven innings, a quality start and his first victory.
Volstad struck out Zack Cozart to start the game, but the next five batters reached base. Stubbs extended his hitting streak to six games with a single, stole second and scored on Joey Votto’s single. Jay Bruce, batting clean-up, singled and stole second. Scott Rolen walked to fill the bases and Chris Heisey singled to left for two runs and a 3-0 lead.
Willie Harris grounded to first, scoring the fourth run before Bailey struck out to end the inning, a 41-pitch inning for Volstad.
Amazingly, Volstad retired the Reds 1-2-3 in the second on seven pitches.
Bailey took advantage of the wind howling in and gave up some early hard-hit balls that the arctic breeze keep the ball in the park.
One ball, though, hit by Starlin Castro, would have landed on Waveland Avenue on a normal day. But the wind pushed it back in the park and left fielder Chris Heisey gloved it against the ivy on the brick wall and dropped it for an error as a run scored in the second inning. And Castro scored on Ryan Lahair’s single to make it 4-2.
The Reds retrieved those two runs for Bailey in the fourth on a two-run double by suddenly hot-hitting Stubbs, a hit that followed singles by Devon Mesoraco and Zack Cozart, pushing the lead back to 6-2.
Chicago extracted a run off Bailey in the fifth on a pinch-hit double by Blake DeWitt, a fly ball and a ground ball and it was 6-3.
IT WAS OBVIOUS things were going the Reds way in the sixth when Bailey couldn’t get down a bunt after a double by Willie Harris and an infield hit by Devin Mesoraco to open the inning. After missing two bunt attempts, Bailey grounded out, scoring Harris for a 7-3 lead.
The Cubs scored another unearned run in the sixth on a double by Ryan LaHair, a passed ball charged to Mesoraco and a ground ball, but Stubbs grabbed that run back after Harris doubled with a single to center field. Pinch-hitter Todd Frazier tripled home a run in the ninth, his first hit of the year and his first career triple.
Aroldis Chapman did his thing in the eighth — 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts and he now has 17 strikeouts and no walks on the season.
For the first time this year the Reds have won two games in a row, with two more against the gosh-awful Cubs, giving the Reds a chance to go 5-5 on the trip and climbing back to .500 when they come home.Tweet