Back of Cubs' lineup carries offense with 5 XBH

August 14th, 2022

CINCINNATI -- If you're looking for an encouraging sign for the Cubs as they play through the final two months of the regular season, consistency from their offense could be as good a sign as any.

The stretch of Patrick Wisdom, Zach McKinstry, Yan Gomes and Christopher Morel -- the bottom four hitters in Chicago’s order -- combined to go 6-for-16 with five RBIs and two walks in Sunday’s 8-5 series finale loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

A silver lining in the loss, Chicago tallied 12 hits and applied pressure on Cincinnati’s pitching staff throughout the afternoon. They also slugged three home runs for the second consecutive game.

When it was announced that starting second baseman Nick Madrigal and catcher Willson Contreras would have the afternoon off, it opened the door for McKinstry and Gomes to get the nod in their places. And they both found a way to impact the game.

McKinstry recorded a pair of doubles in just his second multi-hit game of the season. Cubs manager David Ross was impressed with what he saw from his lineup over the weekend, particularly from the bottom half.

“[McKinstry] has been swinging the bat really well … Gomes [with] the big home run. They did a really nice job today,” Ross said. “The bottom of the lineup kind of carried us.”

Recently acquired designated hitter Franmil Reyes -- who finished 1-for-5 -- only adds to the power threat of their lineup. He now has a hit in each of the four games in which he’s appeared since being acquired on Monday.

“I think Franmil just kind of lengthens our lineup … [It] keeps that power threat throughout,” Gomes said. “It's going to be a fun [thing] to see the last couple months of the year.”

Wisdom got things started in the second inning when he took Reds starting pitcher Justin Dunn’s four-seamer 361 feet to the left field corner. Then in the fourth inning, Gomes and Morel went back-to-back. First, Gomes with a 420-foot blast into the upper-deck past left-center field, then Morel, who slugged a 394-foot home run into the bleachers in right-center.

“The homer to Wisdom, just got to get the ball up,” Dunn said. “The homer to Gomes, it just leaked back over. Morel, he did a really good job, good hitter, stayed on a slider, and stayed through it pretty well.”

The Cubs were able to put the tying run on base in the eighth inning and bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but couldn't capitalize in either situation -- totaling 11 runners left on base.

The Cubs are 15 1/2 games back in both the NL Central and NL Wild Card, but they can already plan for what their lineup may look like next season.

“[Pitchers] can’t fall asleep on us,” Gomes said. “When Morel is hitting last, that's one of the good signs that this lineup is deep, because that kid can change the game at any point. [For] Wisdom … he just consistently hits homers. That’s the kind of player that he is.”

Gomes has given Ross a boost off the bench in limited action playing behind Contreras. In his last seven games, he’s slashing .316/.435/.474 with three walks.

“It wasn't so much that before I wasn't taking good swings or not being in a good position … [the] hits just weren't falling,” Gomes said. “That’s the name of the game sometimes. You’ve just got to be able to clear your head, focus each at-bat, keep grinding out there and keep taking good swings.”