Our Pledge To You


Cubs split pair with last-place Reds on day that sums up roller-coaster season

CINCINNATI — The Cubs’ season to date played out in a doubleheader Saturday — all the good, bad and, at times, apathetic ugly of it.

Jose Quintana’s seven innings of one-hit pitching and a lineup that feasted on last-place Reds pitching earned a split at Great American Ball Park with a 10-0 victory in the nightcap.

Russell tries to tune out Machado trade chatter that won’t go away
Rain Man: Jon Lester makes it rain again for Cubs in 8-1 win over Reds

But not before poor hitting with men on base, “fatigue” and raw emotions were exposed in a 5-4, 11-inning loss that ended with a bases-loaded walk by Justin Wilson and featured a bench-clearing incident in the seventh.

Baez and Amir Garrett (far left) exchange words during the bench-clearing incident in Game 1.

“We have to do a much better job than we did today,” Maddon said after an opening loss  in which the Cubs went 1-for-16 with men in scoring position and left 14 on base (just 7-for-47 in three games with 37 LOB). “That’s one of my least favorite games as Cubs manager.”

The loss also included Anthony Rizzo being thrown out at second to end a rally in the top of the sixth when he didn’t slide, shortstop Addison Russell committing an error in the bottom of the inning that opened a two-run rally for the Reds and slumping Javy Baez stopping halfway to first after grounding to second with the score tied in the ninth.

“It was not a good game,” Maddon said. “One of my worst sitting in that dugout.”

The Cubs have won two of the first three in this four-game series. Ian Happ, in particular, has shined with a near cycle in the opener and home runs in both games along with six walks, including four intentional, in the series.

But Baez’s frustration was a case study of the team’s roller-coaster start through 43 games.

Arguably the Cubs’ MVP for April, Baez is in a 2-for-25 slump with 10 strikeouts since he singled in his first at-bat Sunday at home.

The frustration spilled over Saturday, with his failure to run out the grounder in the ninth resulting in a seat on the bench for the rest of the day.

“I’m frustrated because I’m trying to get better. I just keep trying and trying,” Baez said. “It doesn’t look like we’ve got the same team. We don’t do that, what I just did, when I didn’t run down the line.

“At that moment, there were so many things in my head. That’s why I didn’t run down the line. It’s my fault. I’ll learn from that.”

Quintana allowed only one hit in seven innings for the Game 2 victory.

It came just two innings after his inning-ending strikeout against Amir Garrett, who let out what Maddon called a “Lion’s King type of roar” in victory before looking for Baez and staring him down as he walked off the mound.

Baez didn’t take issue with the roar but did with the stare-down.

“He can do whatever he wants. Any pitcher can,” said Baez, who hit a grand slam off Garrett a year ago. “But you can’t show up anybody because we don’t, even now that we’re struggling. … If you want to show somebody up, at least man up and stay out there or walk this way.”

No punches were thrown, and nobody was ejected.

Maddon took exception with the way Garrett made it about Baez.

“I’m certain if he continues with that method, [confrontations are] going to happen more often,” Maddon said. “The Lion King should be reserved for Broadway or possibly the movie theater.”