Cubs Observations: Nico Hoerner’s big day helps take down Reds

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Tim Stebbins
·3 min read
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Observations: Hoerner’s big day helps Cubs take down Reds originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Cubs beat the Reds 3-2 on Saturday, improving to 12-15 on the season.

Here’s 10 observations from the game.

1. Zach Davies ran into trouble in the first inning for the second straight start. The right-hander gave up two runs on two hits and a sac fly. He allowed four runs in the first Monday in Atlanta.

2. Davies and the Cubs rotation have been unable to pitch deep into games much of this season, and that continued Saturday. Davies tossed four innings, his fifth time through six starts he hasn’t pitched at least five innings.

3. But even with the short start, Saturday was one of Davies’ better outings this season — certainly a bounce back from Monday. He allowed just those two runs (one earned) on four hits Saturday.

4. A big key Saturday was Davies working out of trouble. He surrendered back-to-back two-out walks in the third, loading the bases, before striking out Eugenio Suárez. In the fourth, he got out of another bases-loaded, two-out jam by getting Nick Castellanos to ground out.

5. Who says pitchers hitting can’t be entertaining? Davies helped his own cause in the third, executing a safety squeeze bunt perfectly to drive in Nico Hoerner, putting the Cubs on the board. 

6. How well has Hoerner hit since rejoining the Cubs last month? Well, after Saturday's 3-for-3 performance, he's halfway to his hit 2020 hit total. Hoerner has 12 knocks in 10 games this season. Last season, he tallied 24 in 48 games.

Hoerner also tallied his seventh walk Saturday. He walked 12 times in 2020.

"He's a really good baseball player. That's what I love about him," manager David Ross said postgame, "He's always studying and trying to be better.

"I think a lot of us knew who he was and he's out to prove something, which is a real powerful thing," Ross added.

7. Tensions were high in the eighth inning after Amir Garrett struck out Anthony Rizzo. Garrett was animated in his celebration, pounding his chest, and the Cubs took exception. Both benches cleared and Reds third baseman Mike Moustakas held back Cubs shortstop Javy Báez. Order was soon restored and things did not get physical.

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"I think that's his style," Ross said of Garrett. "I don't agree with it. I think it's garbage, but he's not on my team.

"That's not celebrating," Ross added.

8. Craig Kimbrel made just his second appearance since April 22 and ran into trouble in the ninth. The right-hander surrendered back-to-back singles but worked out of a first-and-third, no-one jam with two strikeouts and a 4-3 ground out to escape.

Kimbrel hasn't allowed a run in 18 straight appearances, dating back to last September. 

The Cubs bullpen collectively tossed five shutout innings of two-hit ball with no walks and eight strikeouts.

9. Tony Wolters started at catcher in place of Willson Contreras, who's dealing with a right thigh ailment, and went 1-for-4 at the plate.

10. Ross and a trainer checked out Rex Brothers in the fifth inning after the reliever struck out Moustakas. The southpaw stayed in the game to finish the inning, in which he struck out the side.

On deck: The Cubs and Reds conclude their three-game series Sunday in Cincinnati. First pitch is 12:10 p.m. CT. Trevor Williams (2-2, 4.44 ERA) and Tyler Mahle (1-1, 1.75 ERA) are the probable starters.

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