Chicago Cubs (8-7 SU, 6-9 RL, 7-7-1 O/U) vs. Cincinnati Reds (9-6 SU, 9-6 RL, 6-7-2 O/U)
MLB: Friday, April 21, 2017, Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio, 7:10 pm ET
Lines: Chicago -163, Cincinnati +153; Over/Under: 8.5
The top two teams in the early going in the NL Central meet up in the Buckeye State. The defending champion Chicago Cubs open up a three game set with the surprising Cincinnati Reds Friday night. Chicago won their second straight as they took a walk-off 7-4 win over the Brewers in the rubber game of a set Wednesday afternoon. Cincinnati played the rubber game of a three game interleague set against the Orioles at home Thursday night. Chicago beat up on Cincinnati last season, winning 15 of 19 meetings. That included a 7-2 mark here at the Great American Ball Park.
Chicago Cubs Seek to Build Momentum After Walk-off
Chicago has scuffled early on this season but the team showed the moxie that carried them to the World Series title last year in the last two games. The Cubs rallied from five runs down to win 9-7 Tuesday night and followed that up by bouncing back from a pair of three run deficits to win Wednesday. Chicago was down 4-3 in the ninth before Jon Jay worked a one out walk. Pinch hitter Miguel Montero singled him to third and Kris Bryant drove him in to tie the score. With two outs and ahead in the count 2-0, Addison Russell, who blooped a RBI single to make it 4-3 in the eighth inning, crushed a walk-off three-run homer, his second, to give the Cubs the win. Kyle Hendricks struggled but ended up with a no-decision. He threw five innings, allowing four runs on four hits with four walks and four strikeouts. Four relievers combined to throw four shutout frames with Wade Davis (2-0) picking up the win.
Jon Lester makes his fourth start of the year for the Cubs still in search of his first win. He has no record despite a sparkling 1.00 ERA, a 1.056 WHIP, five walks and 17 strikeouts over 18 innings this season. Lester took a tough no-decision in his last start, which was Sunday at home against the Pirates. He threw seven shutout frames, allowing three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Lester left in line for the win but the bullpen imploded in a 6-1 defeat. He makes his 10th career start against the Reds in this contest. Lester is 3-1 with a 3.32 ERA and a 0.939 WHIP over 59.2 innings of work. He is 2-1 with a 2.94 ERA and a 0.832 WHIP over 33.2 innings in five starts at the Great American Ball Park.
Cincinnati Reds Try to Hold On to First Place in NL Central
Cincinnati is surprisingly the NL Central leader entering this contest. The Reds played the rubber game of a three game set with the Orioles Thursday having won the opener Tuesday 9-3 and getting blanked 2-0 in Wednesday’s game. Cincinnati’s bats were silent in Wednesday’s game, which came at the hands of Ubaldo Jimenez, a guy no one will mistake for Nolan Ryan in his prime. Still, the Reds mustered a measly two singles off the bats of Eugenio Suarez and Tucker Barnhart in the game. Cincinnati wasted a sparkling start from Amir Garrett (2-1), one of the few Reds starting pitchers who is still able to take the mound at the moment. He threw seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits with a walk and 12 strikeouts.
The Reds send Tim Adleman to the mound for his second appearance and first start of the season. He was recalled as Brandon Finnegan became the fourth Reds starting pitcher to hit the DL this season: he has a lat strain. Adleman has no record, a 2.25 ERA, no walks and five strikeouts over four innings of work this season. He threw four innings in relief on Sunday against the Brewers, allowing a run on two hits with no walks and five strikeouts in a 4-2 Reds loss. Adleman faced the Cubs twice in his career, going 1-0 with a 3.97 ERA and a 1.147 WHIP over 11.1 innings. He is 3-2 with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.205 WHIP over 37.1 innings in eight appearances, seven starts, at the Great American Ball Park.
- Cubs are 4-0 in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a winning record
- Cubs are 4-1 in their last 5 road games
- Reds are 1-4 in their last 5 Friday games
The Reds have been a feel-good story to start the year but one has to wonder if they’re coming back to earth. Cincinnati was bamboozled by Jimenez, whose ERA has been under four for a season exactly once since 2010. To put it in perspective, even with those 7.2 shutout frames, his ERA for the year is STILL 5.51 this season. Wade Miley stifled the Reds over eight innings Thursday, allowing a run on two hits while fanning 11. Cincinnati isn’t sneaking up on teams now. After seeing those two guys shut down the Reds lineup, you have to like Lester’s chances of picking up his first win. The Cubs make it three straight wins with a triumph here.