CHICAGO—All was well with Reds’ starter Brandon Finnegan after retiring the first two batters of the seventh inning on Monday night at Wrigley Field. He had maneuvered his way (despite four walks) to a no-hit bid with just five outs remaining to put his name in Reds’ history.
Insert David Ross, a 39 year old catcher who last played for Cincinnati when Finnegan was in his first year of high school in Fort Worth, Texas. After getting ahead of Ross in the count, Finnegan’s curveball was not as low as desired, a hanger the veteran catcher looped into center field for the Cubs’ first hit of the game.
Following a walk, Finnegan was pulled after 111 pitches. The Reds’ bullpen would have a tough time retiring Chicago hitters after that. Tony Cingrani allowed two inherited runners (both charged to Finnegan) to score on a single from Jason Heyward to pull the Cubs within one, 3-2.
One inning later, Cingrani’s two inherited runners he walked scored when Addison Russell drilled a three-run home run into the left-field seats on the first pitch delivered from Jumbo Diaz, giving the Cubs a 5-3 advantage which would stand as the final.
Prior to the seventh inning, Finnegan did just about anything to keep Cincinnati on the path to a third consecutive victory, holding the Cubs hitless and adding a two-out RBI single to give the Reds a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth.
Cincinnati was able to touch up Cubs’ starter Jon Lester, who was 1-0 in four stars against the Reds in 2015. Billy Hamilton’s solo home run in the third gave the Reds a 2-0 lead, adding to the run-scoring ground out from Brandon Phillips in the game’s opening frame.
Unfortunately for the Reds, it was a sight that resembled the 98-loss team from a season ago: a late bullpen collapse.
One year ago, the Reds had finished their opening six-game home slate to start the season at 4-2 before blowing a two-run lead in the eighth inning in the first of three games at Chicago in the same venue.
Because Monday was the Cubs’ home opener, Tuesday is a scheduled off day for both teams before the series picks up for game number two on Wednesday. Here are the probable pitchers.
CIN-Alfredo Simon (0-0, 1.80 ERA)
In his first game back in Cincinnati after a one-year break in Detroit, Simon tossed five innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against Pittsburgh.
CHI- John Lackey (1-0, 9.00 ERA)
Lackey allowed six earned runs in his first start of the season against the Diamondbacks, but 14 runs of support by the offense allowed him to leave a victor.