Cincinnati Reds: The beat(down) rolls on against the Cubs

Apr 22, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher J.J. Hoover walks back to the mound against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Cubs won 8-1. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher J.J. Hoover walks back to the mound against the Chicago Cubs during the ninth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Cubs won 8-1. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cincinnati Reds may soon petition MLB to never have to play the Chicago Cubs again.

46-7.

That’s how badly the Cubs have outscored the Reds this season. In five games. That’s right, they’re winning by an average margin of 9-1.

It was another blowout on Friday night, as the Cincinnati offense had no answers for Chicago pitching. Jon Lester threw seven innings of one-run, five-hit baseball, followed by a perfect inning each from Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm. Meanwhile, the Cubs continued to mash Reds pitching, hitting two more home runs (giving them 10 in five games vs. the Redlegs) en route to an 8-1 win.

Here are some observations from the game:

Looking for the bright spots

In another ugly loss, there weren’t many things to be excited about for the Reds. The best performance of the night was easily from reliever J.C. Ramirez in his team debut. The same day he was called up from the minors, the right-hander spun three innings of scoreless baseball in relief of Moscot, allowing just a single and a walk. Aside from that, Zack Cozart hit his first home run of the season for the only Cincinnati run of the game and Joey Votto snapped his 0-for-19 skid on a single in the first inning.

Erratic control dooms Moscot

If you could use just one word to describe Reds starters this season, “inefficient” seems like an appropriate one. Making his second start of the year, Jon Moscot allowed only three hits, but his trouble finding the strike zone did him in. He wound up walking four Cubs hitters and racked up 96 pitches by the fifth inning. The righty allowed four runs on the night, with only three being earned due to his own throwing error. Fortunately, Ramirez saved the day or the Reds would’ve had to go deep into their bullpen once again.

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Hoover implodes again

To say this has been a terrible start to the season for J.J. Hoover would be an understatement. He had already lost his job as the Reds’ closer coming into Friday night and things only got worse in his first outing since he was removed from the role. The night started poorly from the get-go when he gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Javier Baez, on a 108 mph line drive to left field. He retired the next two batters, but then gave up a single and three straight doubles to allow the Cubs to expand their lead from 4-1 to 8-1. Hoover couldn’t even get through the ninth, as Ross Ohlendorf was called upon to record the final out.

Notes:

  • Billy Hamilton remained out of the lineup for the second straight game with a bruised thumb. Tyler Holt got the start in center tonight and went 0-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base.
  • The Cubs laid down back-to-back successful suicide squeeze bunts in the fourth inning — one from David Ross and the other from Lester — to stretch their lead to 4-0.
  • Of the six batted balls Hoover gave up in the ninth, the exit velocities off the bats of Cubs hitters were (in mph): 108, 100, 102, 101, 83 and 110.