Cubs take a swing at sweeping Reds
CHICAGO — Joe Maddon has never sweated the details and remains as even-keeled as they come.
So when the Chicago Cubs couldn’t manage more than one run during a stretch of five straight games, Maddon insisted that it was just a matter of time before things worked themselves out. Turns out, they have.
The Cubs will attempt to finish a sweep of the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday at Wrigley Field after Daniel Murphy, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez homered in a 10-6 victory on Saturday that extended Chicago’s win streak to four games.
The Cubs have scored 28 runs during their current streak.
Murphy, acquired from the Washington Nationals earlier this week, homered for the second straight game and drove in three runs Saturday. He has settled nicely into the leadoff spot.
His insertion into the lineup comes at a time when third baseman Kris Bryant continues to move closer to a minor league rehab assignment, which could start as early as Monday. Bryant continues to work to get back from a nagging shoulder injury.
Bryant made an impressive batting practice appearance before Saturday’s game and told reporters afterward that he is using a two-handed grip to avoid over-stressing the shoulder when he swings.
“I honestly think I feel even better,” Bryant said Saturday, according to the team’s official website. “I’ve got to bring the contact point a little farther back in my swing and I feel like I’m hitting balls further. I feel like before (the injury) I was only really hitting the ball with one, one and a half hands connected to the bat, and now I feel like I’m using two hands. I think this will be pretty good for me.”
Kyle Hendricks (9-10, 4.04 ERA) will attempt to complete the four-game sweep of the Reds when he takes the mound Sunday. He has won three of his last five outings and is coming off a loss to the Detroit Tigers when he allowed 10 hits but just two runs in seven innings.
Hendricks, who is 4-2 with a 3.80 ERA in 12 career starts against the Reds, has been in more of a groove lately after struggling with inconsistency for much of the year. He struck out three in his last start, but before that had struck out 36 hitters in his previous five outings.
Homer Bailey will attempt to end Cincinnati’s four-game skid on Sunday but has experienced issues of his own all year. Bailey (1-11, 6.21) has not won since May 12 and has allowed 13 earned runs in three August starts.
Bailey has dealt with knee inflammation and has struggled to establish any sort of rhythm. He is 8-4 with a 4.83 ERA in 19 career starts against the Cubs.
Meanwhile, as the Reds continue to find a way to win, All-Star first baseman Joey Votto likely won’t play Sunday in the series finale. Votto (knee) is eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday, but interim manager Jim Riggleman told reporters on Saturday that with the Reds heading into an off-day on Monday he may keep Votto out until a series opens against the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday.
“I don’t know if he’s going to play tomorrow,” Riggleman said, according to the team’s official website. “We’re weighing that … the trainers and Joey are going to make that decision. I’m going to leave that up to them.”