Miles Mastrobuoni continues string of newcomers’ first hits as Cubs

Mastrobuoni had been hitting the ball hard ... right to leather.

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The Cubs’ Miles Mastrobuoni watches his RBI single against the Reds on Tuesday. It was his first hit as a Cub.

The Cubs’ Miles Mastrobuoni watches his RBI single against the Reds on Tuesday. It was his first hit as a Cub.

Jeff Dean/AP

CINCINNATI — Cody Bellinger and Eric Hosmer’s bats have been hot since snapping their hitless streaks to start the season. But Miles Mastrobuoni’s first hit as a Cub was the one that kept coming up after the team’s blowout win Tuesday against the Reds.

“He hit rockets early on and had nothing to show for it,” manager David Ross said.

Mastrobuoni’s hard-hit rate was an impressive 57.1% entering Wednesday. But only one of his seven batted balls had fallen in for a hit.

The ending to the series opener was a perfect example of his bad luck. Mastrobuoni pinch-hit in the ninth inning with two outs and runners on first and second and the Cubs trailing by a run. He worked a 2-1 count and then turned on a cutter, lining it toward first base.

“I thought it had a chance,” Mastrobuoni said. “I thought I hit it hard enough that it was going to get past him before he could react. You really want that one to get through. So that’s baseball for you, unfortunately.”

The ball jumped off his bat at 98.9 mph, with a .630 expected batting average, according to Statcast. But Reds first baseman Jason Vosler pulled it down for the final out of the game.

“This game will tear you apart mentally,” Mastrobuoni said. “And it’s how you respond. And you know that you’re doing everything that you can. You’ve just got to keep pushing along and, as cliche as it is, you’ve just got to trust the process and know that if you keep having good at-bats, those balls are going to fall.”

On Tuesday, that mentality paid off.

Mastrobuoni already had lined out to left field earlier in the game. But in the seventh inning, he finally found a hole, snapping an 0-for-10 skid. His single drove in a run in the Cubs’ six-run inning.

“It feels like a little bit of weight’s lifted off your chest,” Mastrobuoni said.

Cubs-Reds postponed

The series finale Wednesday was postponed because of rain after a delay that lasted 1 hour and 35 minutes.

The game was moved to Sept. 1, when the Cubs return to Cincinnati for a weekend series. The teams will play a split doubleheader on Sept. 1, with the first game scheduled for 12:10 p.m. and the second for 5:40 p.m. Both will be nine-inning regulation games, which MLB went back to last year after two seasons of seven-inning doubleheaders.

The Cubs have an off day Thursday before facing the Rangers at home Friday through Sunday. Right-hander Marcus Stroman, who was originally scheduled to start Wednesday, is the probable starter for Friday, followed by Justin Steele and Jameson Taillon on Saturday and Sunday.

Arizona happenings

Right fielder Seiya Suzuki (strained left oblique) was scheduled to face left-hander Brandon Hughes (left knee inflammation) in a simulated game Wednesday at the spring-training complex in Arizona, Ross said.

Suzuki had four at-bats as the designated hitter in a sim game Tuesday. He’s set to also play in the field Wednesday.

“I heard the oblique’s a 10 out of 10 and he feels really good,” Ross said after speaking with interpreter Toy Matsushita Wednesday morning. “Even a couple check swings, no issues.”

If Suzuki’s buildup continues to go well, the Cubs will send him on a minor-league rehab assignment “soon,” Ross said.

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