The Cincinnati Reds won the rubber-match against the Chicago Cubs, thanks to a very good major league–and professional–debut by one Mike Leake.
Leake pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits and 7 walks. The walks number is high and something to watch in the future. In Leake’s defense, 2 of those were in the 7th, an inning he never should have pitched in. It was almost like manager Dusty Baker was trying everything in his power to set Leake up for failure. Leake battled through, and the bullpen closed out the game without allowing any further runs.
Speaking of Baker, he did juggle up his lineup. While the casual observer may have found it so minor a change as to not notice it, the hardcore Dusty-ite would instantly see it for the throwing caution to the wind that it is for Dusty. No doubt, Baker was sweating as he wrote the names down, erasing them, then shaking his head and writing them again. I’m sure he was rocking Leo Mazzone-style throughout the game. Baker’s change? He moved the catcher to 6th in the order, and put the left-fielder and right-fielder behind him.
Of course, despite the clogging of the bases that allowed the Reds to win, you can’t argue with the results. The loaded bases in the 8th let the Reds tie the game with a walk, followed by a sacrifice tie to get the lead.
The Cubs received good starting pitching, but the offense against failed, despite having plenty of opportunities. The Cubs left 12 men on base this game. That, plus the 13 from the first game of the series, means the Cubs offense stranded 25 runners in their losses to the Reds. That’s something Cubs fans hope will change.