“We’re good, we’ve got it, we can do it,” said Joey Votto in a pre-game interview with Bally Sports Ohio after the Reds stood pat.
But on the Wrigley Field playing surface Tuesday night the Reds didn’t have it and they got it put to them by the Chicago Cubs, 20-9, under a barrage of seven home runs. And the wind was not blowing out.
It was the most runs scored against the Reds this season. The previous high was 17. It was the most runs scored by a Cubs team against a Reds team since 1927.
The loss was costly on two fronts. Milwaukee beat Washington and moved to within a half-game of the first-place Reds. And the third-place Cubs climbed back to within four games of the Reds.
The surging Cubs have won 9 of 11 while the Reds have won 9 of 12.
The Cubs hit a home run off Reds starter Ben Lively in each of the first four innings as they scored five, two, three and three in those four innings.
For Lively, it was not a night, it was a nightmare that he needs to wipe from his memory bank as quickly as possible.
In four innings he gave up 13 runs on 13 hits. That included a three-run home run in the first by Dansby Swanson, a two-run home run by Cody Bellinger in the second, a three-run home run by Mike Tauchman in the third and a two-run home run by Dansby, his second of the game, in the fourth.
A Reds pitcher hadn’t given up 13 runs since Charlie ‘King’ Lear did it in 1915, according to Elias Sports Bureau. But the ‘King’ did it in eight innings. Lively did it in four.
It started inauspiciously for the Reds in the first when Chicago’s Justin Steele (12-3) struck out Elly De La Cruz on three pitches, retired Nick Senzel on a first-pitch pop-up and ended the inning on a Matt McLain fifth-pitch pop-up.
Then the Cubs came to bat and the first six reached base in a raucous inning.
Tauchman led off with a single. Nico Hoerner singled off second baseman Kevin Newman’s glove, sending Tauchman to third. Hoerner stole second and Tauchman scored when catcher Tyler Stephenson’s throw was high, wide and ugly into center field and Hoerner took third.
Ian Happ walked and Bellinger singled for the second run. Dansby then unloaded his three-run home run and it was 5-0.
The Reds retrieved two runs in the second that began with Spencer Steer’s double. He took third on a wild pitch and scored on a wild pitch. Tyler Stephenson singled, his sixth hit in eight at bats against Steele.
Stephenson took second on Steele’s third wild pitch of the inning and scored on first baseman Jeimer Candelario, playing his first game for the Cubs after arriving in a trade with the Washington Nationals.
Stephenson later hit a two-run home run off Steele and was 7 for 10 at the time against the Cubs’ left-hander.
That cut the lead to 5-2, but the Cubs rampaged in the second, third and fourth.
GM Krall did make one deal the day before the deadline when he acquired left-handed relief pitcher Sam Moll from the Oakland A’s.
Moll made his Cincinnati debut in the sixth and pitched 1 1/3 innings and gave up no runs, one hit and struck out three.
Fernando Cruz replaced Moll with one out in the seventh and Hoerner launched the Cubs’ fifth home run into the left-center bleachers. When Cruz gave up a double off the vines to Happ, Reds manager David Bell waved the white surrender flag.
He brought in catcher Luke Maile to pitch … in the seventh inning. And, of course, Wisdom drilled Maile’s third pitch over the center field wall, a two-run homer that made it 16-5.
And Maile gave up four runs in the eighth, including the seventh Cubs homer and the second straight by a pinch-hitter, a two-run shot by Miguel Amaya.
When it finally came to a close, newly acquired Candelario had four hits. Leadoff hitter Tauchman was on base his first four at bats, scored three and drove in three. Swanson drove in five runs with his two homers. Bellinger had three hits, drove in three and scored three.
“We started making calls and sending texts at 8:30 this morning,” said Krall of his long day on his phone. “We had a bunch of conversations, about 100 calls and 200 texts. Nothing worked out. Nothing made sense for what we’re trying to do.”