Cubs' bullpen answers call in Cincy
CINCINNATI -- The Cubs didn't get much out of starting pitcher Dallas Beeler, but the bullpen was there to answer the call, holding the Reds scoreless for the final seven innings in a 6-5 victory over the Reds in Wednesday's doubleheader nightcap at Great American Ball Park.
After being roughed up for five runs in the second inning, Cubs manager Joe Maddon elected to pinch-hit for Beeler in the third. The move paid off when Kris Bryant singled in a couple of runs to tie the game at 5-5, and it also worked out on the mound.
Five relievers were called upon, and they scattered seven hits. Jason Motte closed the door with a strikeout for the final out in the ninth inning to pick up his sixth save.
"The bullpen did a heck of a job today, coming up and just going out there doing what we were asked, and that was to get guys out," Motte said. "We are ready to go regardless of the inning. That's what happened today and the guys did a heck of a job out there, keeping the game where it was and giving our guys a chance to score some runs."
Potentially the most impactful performance out of the bullpen came from Hector Rondon in the eighth inning. With the game tied at 5-5, Rondon surrendered a single to Skip Schumaker and a double to Billy Hamilton before he intentionally walked Joey Votto to load the bases with one out. However, Rondon was able to work out of the jam when Todd Frazier hit a comebacker that bounced off Rondon's hip and ricocheted to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who fired home for a forceout. Jay Bruce followed with a routine flyout to left field to end the threat. The Cubs scored the game-winning run a half-inning later.
After the game, Cubs manager Joe Maddon joked about drawing that play up when he came out to the mound to talk to Rondon, but he also said he felt confident about him getting the job done against Frazier.
"You got Votto coming up, you got Frazier, what do you do?" Maddon said. "I thought there was a better chance of getting the ball on the ground vs. Frazier, as opposed to Votto, even though my numbers indicated differently. Just watching the game, I thought Rondon was throwing the ball great. ... It's about your experience, been through those moments before. I chose to do that, and it worked."
The impressive performance from the bullpen comes at the end of a four-game series against the Reds that featured a 13-inning game on Tuesday night and a doubleheader on Wednesday, the Cubs dropping the twin-bill opener, 9-1. Maddon said having the off day Thursday played a factor in his bullpen decisions Wednesday and impacted the final outcome.
"You can only do that because of the day off," Maddon said. "Without the day off, I could not have done what I did with the bullpen tonight, not at all. Could not have even thought about doing that. Well, you could have, let me put it that way, but probably would not have without the day off."