Benches cleared in the eight innings after Reds reliever Amir Garrett shouted at first baseman Anthony Rizzo following a strikeout.
CINCINNATI – The Cubs didn’t play their best baseball in the month of April and stumbled out of the gate, going 11-15 last month.
Manager David Ross has been looking for more balanced games from his club, looking to get both good offense and pitching at the same time. Many of the Cubs games last month had either one or the other, but rarely both.
But the Cubs got a little bit of everything in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Reds.
“It’s a close game, got high emotions and a division rival,” second baseman Nico Hoerner said. “I know it’s May 1 and early in the year, but definitely significant for the morale of this team and what we can do in games like that.”
The Cubs trailed 2-1 early, but came back to tie it in the fourth inning on an RBI-single by Jason Heyward. They would score the go-ahead run in the sixth on an RBI-single by Hoerner to take a 3-2 lead.
Things got testy in the top of the eighth inning after Reds reliever Amir Garrett struck out first baseman Anthony Rizzo – the two have had verbal exchanges in the past. Garrett proceeded to yell in Rizzo’s direction after the strikeout as he walked back to the dugout.
“That’s not the way that I think baseball is intended to go,” Ross said. “But I think that’s his style. I don’t agree with it. I think it’s garbage, but he’s not on my team.”
Shortstop Javy Baez took exception to Garrett barking at Rizzo and immediately hopped over the rail in his defense. Baez walked toward the mound as the benches emptied before being broken up by umpires.
“I’m not going to let [Amir Garrett] or anyone disrespect my teammates,” Baez said after the win.
“I like what he does, he’s just got to do it to his team and not to us after a strikeout. I’ve hit three homers against him and I didn’t do anything to show him up or his team, you know.”
Once order was restored, the game’s intensity remained high as the Reds would give closer Craig Kimbrel everything he could handle in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Kimbrel allowed back-to-back singles to open the inning, putting the tying and go-ahead runs on base with nobody out. He proceeded to strike Alex Blandino and Tyler Naquin looking before getting former Cub Nick Castellanos to end the game. The Cubs bullpen threw five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts.
“A really good day in the bullpen. We held strong,” Ross said. “It was really big of Craig to lock it down there in the end, not crumbling under adversity and doing what he does. I thought all around it was a really nice win for us.”
The Cubs’ win might not have been possible without the work of Zach Davies, who wasn’t perfect, but had his best start in almost a month. Davies’ stuff was better on Saturday than many of his most recents starts as he had batters chasing his changeups down in the zone and induced uncomfortable swings with Reds hitters often diving across the plate to foul pitches off.
The game could have gotten away from Davies as he faced two-out, bases-loaded jams in both the third and fourth with the game tied at 2, but he made big pitches when he needed to keep the Cubs in the game, allowing them to come back late. Davies allowed just one earned run on four hits over four innings. He walked three batters and struck out three in the no-decision.
“Swing and miss is great,” Davies said. “You avoid contact, you avoid the luck or whatever they call it, BABIP and things like that in the game. … I felt like in the past few games, guys have kind of been diving over the plate trying to get low in the zone and sit on changeups. So today being able to locate in and out kind of freed up that changeup in the count to get a little bit different swings on it.”