Cubs win streak ends as fresh beef with Reds begins
Kyle Farnsworth has been retired for eight years. Javy Baez and Amir Garrett have moved on to new teams.
So there didn't seem to be much potential for bad blood when the Cubs and Reds played in front of a small crowd Wednesday in Cincinnati. But things took a strange turn late in the Cubs' 4-3 loss.
Rowan Wick and Joey Votto had words, David Ross was ejected, Patrick Wisdom wasn't happy and the Cubs left the tying run 90 feet short of the plate in the ninth inning, ending their three-game win streak.
It all started when Wick walked Votto in the bottom of the eighth inning. Votto flipped his bat and Wick said he responded with, "Nice bat flip."
"I understand he's been in the league a long time and he can do whatever he wants when he walks," Wick told reporters after the game. "On my side, I wasn't happy at all with the pitches I threw, so emotions got the best of me. I got a little frustrated, but he kind of blew it out of the water a little more than it needed to be."
Votto carried on for a while, then Cubs responded and at one point, home plate umpire Dan Merzel turned toward the visiting dugout and could be heard yelling, "Knock it off."
During his walk-off television interview, Votto got emotional as he talked about the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas. Inside the clubhouse, he talked about his run-in with fellow Canada native Wick.
"When someone says something to me, sometimes I don't answer, but I wasn't in the mood to keep my mouth shut," Votto said. "It's part of the game. I really enjoy that part of the game. Sometimes it can be taken too far. You give it to me, no problem, I'll give it back."
In the top of the ninth, after Frank Schwindel lined out to center, Reds reliever Hunter Strickland hit Wisdom on the forearm. As Wisdom unhappily walked to first base, Ross came out of the dugout and was ejected by Merzel.
Ross told reporters he thought umpires should have come together and discussed whether the hit batter was on purpose, after what happened in the previous half-inning.
"I don't know whether it was (intentional) or not -- but two guys wanting to get together and another guy not wanting to get together was the frustrating part for me," Ross said.
Votto insisted hitting Wisdom was not intentional, especially since it brought the tying run to the plate.
"You don't put the tying run at the plate with one out," Votto said. "The idea he did that on purpose in the ninth inning, what? It couldn't have been less intentional."
The Cubs kept it interesting. Alfonso Rivas walked, then Willson Contreras pinch-hit and hit one deep to center field, but Reds outfielder Nick Senzel made a leaping catch about two steps in front of the wall. Nico Hoerner pinch-hit next and dropped a soft liner into right field to score a run, but Christopher Morel struck out to end the game with runners on the corners.
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the first on a 2-run double by Ian Happ, but Votto's home run and triple made it 4-2 in the third. Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks worked just 4 innings, but the Cubs bullpen threw 4 scoreless innings.
Before the game, the Cubs activated Hoerner and placed catcher Yan Gomes on the injured list with a left oblique strain. Hoerner had been out with a sprained left ankle since colliding with an umpire on May 11 in San Diego.
One question is how much longer Morel will stay in the majors, with Hoerner returning, David Bote well into a rehab assignment in Iowa and Nick Madrigal recovering from a back injury. Morel hit leadoff for the second straight day and went 1-for-4 with a double and walk.
Caleb Kilian, the Cubs' top pitching prospect, had his worst start of the season for the Iowa Cubs on Wednesday. He allowed 4 earned runs and 6 hits in 5 innings at Memphis. The 24-year-old right-hander hadn't allowed more than 1 earned run in his first 8 starts this season. His ERA now stands at 2.06.
Kilian may get a chance to make his major league debut next week because the Cubs have two doubleheaders on the horizon -- May 30 against the Brewers and June 4 against the Cardinals. Iowa rallied to tie Wednesday's game and it was suspended by rain in the top of the eighth inning.