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NICO, WE GO: Cubs 8, Reds 5

Morph is, as always, a genious.

Last night, the Cubs and Reds got off to a late start due to a rain delay, then proceeded to play in said rain anyway. As this was the last meeting between the two teams, they really had no choice to get it in.

Adbert Alzolay started for the Cubs, looking for better defensive support than he got last time out. The Reds were sending Sonny Gray, who was sporting a career 2.38 ERA against the north siders. How did it go?

Alzolay again had his defense fail him, as Cameron Maybin biffed a hit into a run scoring triple in the first, and Willson Contreras sailed a throw into center field which set up another run. After three innings, the Cus were down 3-0 and Gray appeared to be cruising. Then you, me, and the entire world thought, shit, here we go again…

But then, the damndest thing happened. Gray walked Contreras to start the fourth, then after a Jason Heyward groundout, a Maybin single and a Bote walk loaded the bases for Nico Hoerner. Hoerner rose to the occasion, lining a two-run double into the left field gap before scoring from second on an Ian Happ single that was hit to Reds second baseman Mike Moustakas, who was in shallow right field, giving the Cubs the lead en route to a 8-5 victory.

Let’s get to this.

THE GOOD:

Hoerner. All season long his hard-hit ball numbers should have more positive results than we’ve seen. Tonight he made his own luck. His scoring from second on an infield single is something we usually only expect from Javier Baez.

Maybin picked himself up after his first inning defensive miscue with a single and an RBI triple. Ian Happ raved about what a good guy he is on the latest “From The Compound” podcast, and it was good to see him atone for his mistake.

Contreras had four hits, including two doubles. He’s one of the myriad Cubs bats that has needed to get hot. If the best catcher in baseball starts hitting the way he usually does, it’ll be good news for the Cubs during the last two weeks of the season into the postseason.

The possible awakening of Bryzzo. Both KB and Tony had two hits tonight, and while the ball is staying in the yard at the moment, these two heating up, like Contreras, will help the Cubs delay packing up their gear for the winter.

THE BAD:

Javier Baez. Three more strikeouts, 6 LOB. He’s also back below the Mendoza Line. Everything I said Contreras, Bryant and Rizzo getting hot goes extra for Baez, since when he’s on base he can create some havoc out there. Sitting him isn’t an option though, as his defense can’t be replaced. Hopefully he figures it out soon.

Alzolay. Ryan Dempster, of all people, gave some good analysis of Alzolay last night. Right now when he falls behind he’s trying too hard to throw the perfect pitch, which is only getting him into more trouble. He needs to stick to his game plan. He’s still young, hopefully he’ll figure it out.

Dan Winkler sucks.

THE UGLY:

Another four strikeouts for Happ. While he had a two-run single (mainly by virtue or Moustakas throwing from the seat of his pants and Hoerner’s hustle), he struck out another four times. Maybe they need to put Billy Hamilton out there for a game or two while Happ’s eye fully heals, because he doesn’t look like he’s tracking balls too effectively at the moment since his own foul ball hit him in the eye last weekend.

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