The Cubs lost 3-0 to the Reds on Wednesday, despite a quality start from Yu Darvish and a strong finish by the Cubs bullpen.
From the second inning on, Cubs pitchers combined for eight shutout innings.
But one three-run home run from Mike Moustakas was all the Reds needed, as the Cubs bats went cold.
Here are takeaways from the game:
Darvish has been consistent all year when asked about the NL Cy Young race. He’s not thinking about that, he’d only thinking about the next pitch.
Well, after giving up a three-run home run to Moustakas in the first inning Wednesday, Darvish again called on that next-pitch mentality.
In the second inning, Darvish struck out the side. Including those three strikeouts, he retired eight batters straight.
Darvish’s final line – six innings, two hits, three runs, three walks, nine strikeouts -- was one of his worst this season. But that was mostly thanks to a first inning in which Darvish allowed all three runs, the most he's allowed in a game since his first start of the season.
Darvish also walked two in the first inning and a third in the fourth, breaking a streak of 26 games with two walks or fewer.
But after the first inning, Darvish threw five hitless innings and struck out eight to pull off a quality start against the odds.
Don’t count Bauer out
Trevor Bauer didn’t receive any votes for NL Pitcher of the Month in August, a title Darvish won. But he pitched like a Cy Young candidate against the Cubs on Wednesday.
Through four innings, Trevor Bauer still hadn’t allowed a hit or issued a walk. He’d stopped short of perfect – Kyle Schwarber reached base on an error, as shortstop Freddy Galvis dropped a towering popup, and Bauer hit Contreras with a pitch. But he was certainly dominant.
Finally, with no outs in the fifth inning, Victor Caratini broke the seal. The catcher singled into center field for the Cubs’ first hit of the game.
Bauer still only allowed three hits in 7 2/3 scoreless innings. By the end of the night, Bauer (1.74 ERA) had passed Darvish (1.77) in ERA.
Welcome back Heyward
Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward returned to the Cubs lineup Wednesday, after leaving Sunday’s game with lightheadedness and shortness of breath. COVID-19, cardiovascular and allergy tests all came back negative, he said.
Heyward started the closest thing the Cubs had to a rally against Bauer, with a single to left field. Then Ildemaro Vargas, making his Cubs debut, hit a single to right field and moved Heyward to third. But then Ian Happ smoked a line drive right to leather, ending the inning without scoring a run.
Not so Happ-y
Happ shouted in frustration as the Reds jogged off the field in the second inning. The Cubs leadoff hitter had struck out for the second time in the game. By the time the night was over, Happ would record three total strikeout.
Happ had also struck out three times on Tuesday, marking the first time this season that Happ has struck out three times in consecutive games.
It’s no cause for alarm – Happ still entered the game with the Cubs’ second-best batting average (.295) – but it does mark the first rough patch of Happ’s breakout season.
“He left a mark. The (Roberto Clemente) award -- for me to be a nominee for the award this year -- it’s all about humility, giving back and putting others before yourself, and I feel like how can you not retire a number like that within our game of baseball?” – Jason Heyward on if MLB should retire Clemente’s No. 21.
Adbert Alzolay takes the mound for the Cubs Thursday, in his third spot start of the season. Right-hander Sonny Gray is penciled in as his formidable Reds counterpart in the season series finale.