Price-Maddon chess match goes Cubs' way
CINCINNATI -- The Reds losing a 6-5 game to the Cubs in the nightcap of Wednesday's doubleheader certainly fell square on the shoulders of starting pitcher Tony Cingrani. After all, it took only a half-inning for the left-hander to blow the 5-0 lead he was given in the bottom of the second.
But a key decision by manager Bryan Price also backfired during the Cubs' third-inning rally. With three runs already in for Chicago, there were runners on second and third base with two outs when Price elected to have Cingrani intentionally walk David Ross with starting pitcher Dallas Beeler due up next.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who had Travis Wood warming in the bullpen during the rally after the Reds batted around on Beeler in the second, made a bold move and quickly summoned power-hitting rookie Kris Bryant to pinch-hit.
"I knew there was that possibility," Price said. "I also knew they had limitations, as we did, with the way things were set up. It's always that cat-and-mouse game. You have somebody up quickly in the bullpen to sell that you might potentially pinch-hit.
"For me, it was a chance to get the starter they needed innings from and get him out of the game, if they needed to make that decision. To me, I didn't think twice about the decision. It got the pitcher out of the game, and if they used Bryant in that situation, so be it."
Bryant, who was expected to get the night off after he started Game 1, lined a game-tying two-run single to left field. Bryant then remained in the game for the double-switch that brought Wood in to pitch.
"How about KB coming up off the bench like that, early in the game being ready for the moment? That's pretty spectacular," Maddon said. "A lot of guys wouldn't be ready for that moment, but he was.
"What was going on early, I thought if we didn't take advantage of that moment right there when KB came up, that we may not ever get a chance to really score that many runs. I'd already gotten done telling KB he had the night off but we may use him at some point, I think, in the seventh or eighth inning. However, once we [pinch-hit him], it just made sense to leave him in the game."
There were no regrets for the decision from Price to not face Ross, a backup catcher who came into the game batting .173.
"We could have gone after Ross," Price said. "You don't know what they're going to do. The one thing I wanted to do was make sure that starting pitcher was out of the game. That, to me, was the most important thing, knowing they were in a similar place as we were, without having any bullpen depth."
Activated from the disabled list to make his first start of the season after being a reliever in the first half, Cingrani did not make pitches. Trouble escalated after Starlin Castro's one-out RBI double. When Bryant was up, Cingrani fell into a 3-0 count before giving up the game-tying hit with a full count.
"By the third inning, it was kind of a debacle," Cingrani said. "When I gave up that run, I started overthrowing. I settled down against [Addison] Russell [who struck out for out No. 2], then the intentional walk and then I just got myself in a hole, 3-0, against Bryant. And that's how they scored five."
After the game, Cingrani was sent back to Triple-A Louisville. He was the 26th man Cincinnati was allotted for the doubleheader.