Let’s start with the only thing you really have to know about tonight’s game: Keegan Thompson was awesome. Just truly excellent for the third straight start in a row. Through the first five innings of the game, he was absolutely lights out, pitching efficiently, throwing hard, pinpointing his four-seamer, attacking the strikezone, and introducing some really impressive breaking pitches when the moment called for one (there were some truly nasty sliders and breaking balls).
He ran into a little trouble in the 6th inning, when his velocity (and command) started to wane, but he was able to get out of the trouble, finishing the night with 2 earned runs over 6.0 IP with 8Ks for his third consecutive quality start …
… Or, at least, that’s how it should’ve ended.
Instead of taking the opportunity to remove Thompson from the game following his embattled sixth inning, David Ross brought him back out for the 7th. And after allowing two runners to reach, Ross pulled Thompson in favor of Rowan Wick, who gave up a three-run home run, adding two more tallies to Thompson’s final line: 6.1 IP, 4ER, 0BB, 8Ks. I was not pleased.
I’d guess the thinking had something to do with (1) Thompson’s low pitch count and (2) the bottom of the Reds order coming up (both are reasonable points). But it sure seemed clear that Thompson was done after the sixth. He had already lost his best stuff and “battled” through an inning as the Reds started to hit him hard and often. Worse, the decision to go batter-to-batter forced a struggling Rowan Wick into a dirty inning, which he did not survive (the Reds took a 5-0 lead they’d never surrender). And for what, exactly? Thompson did his job and shouldn’t have been back out there.
But whatever. None of that changes the fact that he was excellent tonight. We’ll probably dig in a little more tomorrow. But in short, Thompson executed his plan of attack perfectly: Attack the strikezone, use more four-seamers, and throw as hard as he could for as long as he could. Ross should’ve recognized that he was done, but it doesn’t change anything.
At least Nico Hoerner kept his red-hot streak alive with three hits tonight. Rafael Ortega also had a good game, and Yan Gomes was really impressive behind the plate, blocking a ton of pitches in the dirt.
Long story short, the Cubs had plenty of chances to win this one, but they came up short. It’s one more loss and one more game closer to a Reds team that began the season 3-22.