Observations: Cubs lose slugfest, Ian Happ vs. Reds

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Tim Stebbins
·4 min read
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Observations: Cubs lose slugfest, Ian Happ vs. Reds originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Cubs lost to the Reds 13-12 on Sunday, dropping to 12-16 on the season.

Here’s 10 observations from the game.

1. The Cubs experienced a scary moment in the eighth inning when Nico Hoerner caught a flare in shallow center field, colliding with Ian Happ. Happ was slow to get up and left the field on a cart.

David Ross said pregame Willson Contreras, who missed Saturday’s game with a thigh ailment, was available if needed, and Contreras came in to catch. Tony Wolters moved to second base, Hoerner to left field and Kris Bryant to center.

Ross said postgame Happ is in good spirits but won't know what's next for the outfielder until talking to the training staff.

2. The collision came just a half inning after Happ hit a dramatic game-tying three-run homer. Happ, who struggled offensively in April, put together his first multi-hit game of the season before exiting, going 3-for-5.

“Hopefully, there’s nothing too serious with him and he can continue to do what he did today,” Bryant said of Happ. “That was huge for us as a team and him in general.”

3. The Cubs and Reds scored in bunches Sunday, combining to hit 10 home runs and score 25 times, including in every inning except the fourth and ninth.

4. But on a day where offense came easy for both teams, two questionable base running plays cost the Cubs. Wolters tried to steal home in the second when catcher Tucker Barnhart threw the ball back to pitcher Tyler Mahle. He was called safe but ruled out on replay review, ending the inning.

After an RBI double in the sixth, Hoerner tried to steal third with one out but was thrown out by pitcher Sean Doolittle.

5. Offense came so easy that the Cubs bullpen, which threw 9 2/3 shutout innings Friday-Saturday, gave up seven runs. Alec Mills and Justin Steele each surrendered three, including two homers off Steele.

Craig Kimbrel allowed the winning score in the 10th, the runner starting the inning on second base under MLB's extra-innings rule. It's considered an unearned run.

6. The Cubs entered Sunday second in baseball in runs allowed (26) in the first inning (Pittsburgh first with 34). That was before Trevor Williams gave up a pair of scores against Cincinnati.

7. Cubs starting pitchers struggled to pitch deep into games in April, with only Pittsburgh averaging fewer innings per start among NL clubs. That’s continued two games into May, as Williams lasted just 2 2/3 innings a day after Zach Davies pitched four innings.

"We really need to do better as a rotation, and we know that. We really do," Williams said. "We're really looking for that one guy to start it. 

"We've seen some really good strides from certain guys, where we are taking positive steps forward. It has been addressed as a group and it's something that will be addressed going forward."

Williams allowed six runs on six hits (three home runs) Sunday, walking four with two strikeouts.

8. Bryant just finished the best April of his career, but Sunday is right up there among his best games of the season. Bryant went 3-for-5 with a pair of home runs and that RBI double against the Reds.

9. Hoerner continues to prove he belongs in the lineup every day. The 23-year-old delivered his fifth multi-hit game of the season with a 2-for-4 afternoon. He's just nine hits away from matching his 48-game 2020 total (24).

10. Keegan Thompson was able to work around traffic to pitch a scoreless fifth inning in his MLB debut. The 2017 third-round pick erased a leadoff walk with a 6-3 double play, as well as two two-out singles with a 4-6 ground out.

The Cubs called up Thompson from Triple-A on Saturday.

On deck: The Cubs open a three-game series with the defending champion Dodgers Monday at Wrigley Field. First pitch is 6:40 p.m. CT. Walker Buehler (1-0, 3.16 ERA) and Kyle Hendricks (1-3, 7.54 ERA) are the probable starters.

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