Cubs split doubleheader against Reds to open series in Cincinnati

The Cubs won the first game 6-2 but lost the second 3-2 in a walk-off.

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The Cubs reinstated José Cuas from the bereavement list to open Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Reds on Friday.

The Cubs reinstated José Cuas from the bereavement list to open Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Reds on Friday.


CINCINNATI — The Cubs used nine pitchers on their way to splitting a doubleheader Friday against the Reds. They won the afternoon game 6-2 and dropped the evening game 3-2 in a walk-off.

Rookie left-hander Jordan Wicks, who made his major-league debut last week against the Pirates, had a second strong start in Game 1. He held the Reds to one run in five innings and Keegan Thompson pitched the last two, so manager David Ross only had to use two other relievers to bridge the gap.

Game 2 was a true bullpen game. Left-hander Drew Smyly (one run in three innings) and Hayden Wesneski (3⅓ hitless innings) took on the bulk of the workload. Closer Adbert Alzolay yielded a home run to Nick Martini and walk-off single to Noelvi Marte in the ninth and blew a save chance for only the third time this season.

With the score tight, veteran right-hander Shane Greene, whom the Cubs called up along with outfielder Alexander Canario when rosters expanded for September, didn’t make his debut with the team.

Greene’s new role

Greene, 34, is a former closer and earned an All-Star nod in that role in 2019, but he has bounced around the last couple of seasons. The Cubs signed him to a minor-league deal in late June, and he joined the rotation at Triple-A Iowa this month.

‘‘I’ve been trying to talk someone into letting me start for a couple of years now . . . because everybody that comes out of the bullpen throws 100 mph nowadays and I don’t,’’ Greene said. ‘‘So I knew that if I could just prove that I can get guys out for a long period of time and give the team a chance to win, I would add value to Shane Greene.’’

The fact that Greene was stretched out to multiple innings served as an insurance policy for an 18-inning day.

‘‘We had to think about what would happen after a doubleheader,’’ president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said. ‘‘You almost never have a doubleheader day without transactions afterward. And so we had to keep that in mind.’’

The Cubs are expected to cycle several players through those extra roster spots through September. Hoyer said they’ll prioritize adding another lefty to the bullpen to join Smyly.

The Cubs optioned Anthony Kay, their only other lefty reliever, to Iowa between games Friday to reinstate reliever Jose Cuas from the bereavement list to start Game 2.

Waiver madness

Two-thirds of the Reds’ starting outfield in Game 1 joined them via waivers Thursday. Hunter Renfroe was one of six players the Angels put on waivers this week, and Harrison Bader was waived by the Yankees. The Cubs came up empty in a claim system that goes by reverse winning percentage.

‘‘The fact that it was so many guys on waivers, I don’t think it’s ideal,’’ Hoyer said. ‘‘The buzz around the league, when you talk to your colleagues with other teams, has been a level of frustration just because of the fact that a couple of teams can kind of grab everyone based on where they are in the standings.’’

Hoyer acknowledged there was no point in complaining now, but he also offered a possible solution.

‘‘It’d be something I think would be great to address in the winter,’’ he said. ‘‘Is there a way to change the order after you get one claim or limit that?’’

Stroman Arizona-bound

Right-hander Marcus Stroman (fractured rib cartilage) is headed to the Cubs’ Arizona complex to continue his throwing progression.

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