The Chicago Cubs are looking for any sign that their historically bad stretch is coming to an end.
The Cincinnati Reds are trying to continue their playoff push by taking advantage of a team in full rebuild mode.
The Reds host the Cubs on Tuesday in the second game of a three-game set, with Cincinnati entering having won nine of 13 and sitting just a game and a half back of the San Diego Padres for the second National League wild-card spot.
The Cubs, meanwhile, have lost 12 games in a row.
On Monday night, the Reds jumped out to a 12-0 lead, giving starter Wade Miley more than enough cushion on the way to a 14-5 romp. The Reds have scored in double figures 18 times this season, the most in the majors, seven of those coming in Miley starts.
“Great team win,” said Miley, who fired seven shutout innings. “Fun team to be a part of. Nothing better than being in a race.”
Monday was also a historic night for the Reds’ biggest star. Joey Votto collected his 2,000th hit in an eight-run seventh inning, joining Billy Williams in 1971 as the only players in major league history to collect their 2,000th hit, 300th home run and 1,000th RBI in the same season. Votto added hit No. 2,001 later in the same inning.
“I think we were all able to take it in and enjoy it with him,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It was a great for us to be able to be there in the moment with him. I think we’re in awe of him … the way he’s embracing where he is.”
The Cubs would rather not embrace their current status. They have been outscored 64-24 in the past six games of the 12-game skid. The franchise that won the World Series in 2016 and was 38-27 on June 13 this year has lost 42 of 56. The Cubs are 2-15 since the trade deadline, when they dealt away numerous stars, and 2-18 in their past 20.
“We’re in a spot where we’re trying to get better,” Chicago manager David Ross said. “I think there are better days ahead. I think these guys know this. I think the organization knows this, from the top down.”
The Reds will send rookie Vladimir Gutierrez (8-3, 3.95 ERA) to the mound Tuesday for his 15th major league appearance (all starts). The right-hander has won four consecutive outings, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.78 ERA in that span.
Gutierrez is 1-1 with a 2.38 ERA in two starts — both on the road — against the Cubs.
The Cubs will counter with their ace Kyle Hendricks (13-5, 4.15). Hendricks took his first loss in 17 starts in his latest outing Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers, when he allowed a career-high nine runs on 11 hits in four-plus innings. The streak was the longest by a Cubs pitcher since Jake Arrieta’s club-record 24-start run from July 30, 2015, to May 31, 2016.
Hendricks will be making his 22nd career start vs. the Reds, against whom he is 6-5 with a 4.46 ERA, including 0-0 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts this year. The right-hander is 2-5 with a 6.16 ERA in 11 career starts in Cincinnati.
–Field Level Media