In May, Cubs-Reds 'felt like a playoff game'

May 2nd, 2021

CINCINNATI -- Watching the Reds and Cubs slug it out on Sunday almost looked like something out of a video game. Both offenses had huge afternoons -- each notching five home runs -- as they equaled the Great American Ball Park single-game record for blasts.

When the dust settled, the Reds emerged with the 13-12 walk-off win in a 30-hit, 10-inning spectacular to take two of three games in the series from the Cubs. It was Nick Castellanos’ fifth hit of the game, a single off closer Craig Kimbrel that scored Jesse Winker in the bottom of the 10th that ended it.

“Just each team taking one good swing after another, putting points on the board,” said Castellanos, who also hit two of Cincinnati’s home runs. 

“It felt like a playoff game, to be honest with you,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Back and forth. Heavyweight fight. Wind blowing out in Cincinnati. And we just came up on the short end.”

That Castellanos’ hit served as the final exclamation point on a wild day. Here were some of the notable moments and performances from the memorable game:

Reds: Suárez has a big day, too
Struggling all of the first month and batting .149 for the season, Eugenio Suárez had his first three-hit game -- also his second multi-hit game -- of 2021. Suárez hit a first pitch solo homer in the third inning, a single in the fifth inning and his two-out, two-run single in the sixth gave the Reds a 9-6 lead.

“Of course, I feel so happy and I hope to keep going like that,” Suárez said. “When you’re struggling, nothing is the same. But I tried to be the same Geno Suárez that everybody knows. I had the support from my family and teammates when I came here.”

Cubs: Bryant’s 10 total bases
Two pitches into the game, the Cubs had a pair of doubles and one run on the board against Reds righty Tyler Mahle. The second two-bagger in that sequence was off the bat of Bryant, who has taken an aggressive approach to early-count situations this season.

“He gave us fits before in the past,” Bryant said. “These pitchers are just getting increasingly so good at this game, so you've really just got to hit that first good one you get.”

Bryant kept that mind-set in the third, when he crushed a first-pitch homer off Mahle. The Cubs' star went deep again in the fifth, giving him 15 career multi-homer games and a third career game against the Reds with at least 10 total bases. Bryant now owns a share of the Major League lead with 19 extra-base hits this season.

Reds: Castellanos’ scorching season continues
The two biggest innings for the Reds both involved Castellanos home runs. When Cincinnati batted around in the four-run third inning, Castellanos slugged a game-tying two-run homer on a 3-0 sinker from Trevor Williams. Two batters later, Mike Moustakas and Suárez added back-to-back homers off Williams to make it a 6-4 game.

As Cincinnati sent eight to the plate in the sixth inning, a Castellanos single to left field against Alec Mills loaded the bases with two outs. Two batters later, Mills hit Moustakas with a 2-2 pitch to force in the go-ahead run. Castellanos then homered in the seventh, along with Tucker Barnhart.

“Just appreciate it. They don’t come around that often as well as today,” Castellanos said. “Just cherish it, because baseball is a humbling game.”

Cubs: Happ’s game-tying blast
The Cubs have been waiting for Ian Happ -- named the everyday center fielder and leadoff man last year due to a breakout showing -- to find his rhythm this season. On Sunday, he doubled in the first, singled in the seventh and then launched a game-tying, three-run homer off Tejay Antone in the eighth. Bell was trying to give Antone a potential seven-out save situation and he came into the day with a 0.64 ERA in eight appearances.

Combined with homers by Anthony Rizzo and Javier Báez, the Cubs had five blasts in the ballgame. That was ample in overcoming a tough start for Trevor Williams, who allowed six runs to give Chicago’s rotation a 9.53 ERA on the team’s 2-5 trip through Atlanta and Cincinnati.

“We really need to do better as a rotation. And we know that,” Williams said.

Reds: Garrett returns to mound
During the top of the 10th inning with the ghost runner on second base, Amir Garrett took over the day after his words towards Rizzo and Báez sparked a benches-clearing incident on Saturday. Garrett struck out Jason Heyward, intentionally walked Nico Hoerner and struck out Tony Wolters. Garrett didn’t gesture toward or yell anything at Cubs hitters this time, even though he admitted to hearing some talk coming from the visiting dugout. 

“None of that even phases me,” Garrett said. “What happened yesterday is what happened yesterday. I just had to go in there and get the job done for my team. I couldn't be worried about anyone else or whatever. I heard them talking a little bit over there, I didn't let it phase me. I just had one job to do and today we got it done and we got the win.”

Cubs: Arrieta pinch-hits, Reds turn to Hendrix
After Garrett’s appearance, Reds manager David Bell turned to rookie righty Ryan Hendrix to face pinch-hitting pitcher Jake Arrietta, who grabbed a bat with the Cubs out of position players. The teams combined to use 39 players in the game.

Hendrix struck out Arrieta and earned his second big league victory.

“I made the decision before the inning, Amir was going to face those three hitters,” Bell said. “I knew it might be an intentional walk in there. It definitely wasn’t a case that I didn’t believe Amir could get the out. I just believed that Ryan was the better guy there. I know Jake Arrieta is a really good athlete. He swings the bat well.”

Reds: Wolters nabbed at home
Wolters attempted a delayed steal of home in the second inning and was initially called safe. The Reds challenged the ruling and, following a replay review, Wolters was deemed out to end the frame. That proved to be an important run when the smoke cleared on the roller-coaster contest.

“I know we didn't win,” Bryant said. “But if I'm a fan going to a baseball game, that's what I want to see. Teams hitting 10 home runs combined? A lot of action. Great plays. Lead changes. I mean, that's just a great game.”