The red-hot Chicago Cubs will play their final home game of the season on Sunday when they go for a three-game series sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.
Chicago (72-86) brings a six-game winning streak into the contest, tied for its longest of the season. The Cubs, who are 37-29 since the All-Star break, have won 10 of their past 11 games.
Right-hander Marcus Stroman (5-7, 3.66 ERA), who is 3-1 with a 3.07 ERA in five career starts against Cincinnati, will start the home finale for Chicago. It will be the 25th start of the season for Stroman, who has a 2.74 ERA over his past 15 appearances.
He picked up the victory for the Cubs in his lone start this season against the Reds on May 24 in Cincinnati when he allowed two runs on four hits over five innings while striking out eight in an 11-4 win.
On Saturday, Right fielder Seiya Suzuki lined a solo homer into a strong 20 mph breeze and into the bleachers in left-center in the seventh to break a 1-1 tie to help give the Cubs, who finished with just three hits, a 2-1 victory. Nelson Velazquez added an RBI triple, and five Chicago pitchers combined to four-hit the Reds.
“Complete team win,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Nelson’s two-out triple was huge. And then Seiya. I didn’t think it was going to be one of those days that anybody popped one. The ball just wasn’t carrying. Seiya hit it just right.”
The 382-foot line drive was the 14th home run of the season for Suzuki.
“It was a really good day to pitch today,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “The wind was definitely gusting in. … Give Suzuki credit for somehow cutting through the wind with a liner to left.”
Cincinnati (60-98), which needs to win three of its final four games to avoid suffering just the second 100-loss season in franchise history, will turn to right-hander Chase Anderson (2-3, 4.70 ERA) on Sunday. Anderson is 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA in 15 career appearances (14 starts) against the Cubs.
The Reds, who will finish the season with a three-game series with the Cubs starting Monday in Cincinnati, bring a five-game losing streak into Sunday’s contest and have dropped 18 of their past 22 games.
A big reason for Cincinnati’s problems down the stretch has been offense, or lack of it. The Reds have just 17 runs over their past nine games.
On Saturday, Cincinnati wasted another solid starting effort by rookie left-hander Nick Lodolo, who allowed one run on two hits over five innings. He overcame a career-high five walks by also striking out five.
Lodolo, the seventh overall pick in the 2019 draft out of TCU, finishes the season with a 4-7 record and 3.66 ERA in 19 starts. He struck out 131 in just 103 1/3 innings.
“It gives us a lot of optimism, a lot of excitement around our team knowing we have some guys that will really build a strong foundation in the rotation,” Bell said. “The kind of season Nick has had, he’s gotten better every step of the way. That’s exactly what you want from a young pitcher.”
–Field Level Media