by Matt Wilkes

Joey Votto’s two-homer game leads Reds to win over Cubs

Behind four home runs, including a pair from Joey Votto, the Reds bounced back from a crushing defeat on Monday to beat the Cubs 7-4 on Tuesday in Wrigley Field. The victory allowed Cincinnati to hold serve with the Brewers and stay seven games back of first place in the NL Central. With a Padres loss on Tuesday night, the Reds could move to five games back in the wild card.


Offense

The Reds wasted no time taking a 2-0 lead. Jesse Winker, the second batter of the game, blasted a solo home run (100.2 mph, 398 feet) against Cubs starter Adbert Alzolay to put the Reds on the board.

Two batters later, Joey Votto hit a solo shot to the opposite field (105.2 mph, 419 feet), giving him a home run in four consecutive games. It’s the second time he’s hit a home run in four consecutive games, with the last time being April 24-27, 2018.

There was no slowing down for the Reds in the second frame. Tyler Naquin led off the inning with a 108.1-mph double and came around to score two pitches later when Kyle Farmer grounded a single up the middle.

Votto was at it again in the third inning, roping another solo home run (114.1 mph, 410 feet). This was even more impressive than the first, as it was the hardest-hit ball by any Reds hitter this season, and Votto’s hardest in the Statcast era (since 2015). Votto now has 17 home runs this year, the most since his 2017 season when he was robbed of another MVP award.

The home run parade wasn’t over, either. Eugenio Suárez can still punish a mistake pitch, and he did so to lead off the fifth inning. His solo homer (103.4 mph, 398 feet) made it a 5-2 ballgame.

The Reds scored a pair of insurance runs in the ninth inning to pad the lead. Farmer picked up his third hit of the game with a single and came around to score on a pinch-hit double down the left-field line by Aristides Aquino. Next batter Jonathan India pulled another double down the third-base line to score Aquino and make it a 7-2 game.

Pitching

After he was temporarily sent down to Triple-A, Vladimir Gutierrez rejoined the Reds rotation and had a strong outing. The rookie gave up two runs on five hits and three walks in 6.1 innings while striking out five.

Early on, it looked like Gutierrez’s struggles would continue. He gave up a double to leadoff batter Rafael Ortega, which was followed by a two-run home run by Anthony Rizzo. But Gutierrez settled down after that, locating his breaking pitches well and relying on high fastballs.

Of his 109 pitches, 33% were called strikes or whiffs, a career high.

Gutierrez still flirted with danger throughout his start, however. In the third inning, he gave up a leadoff single to Ortega and hit Kris Bryant with a pitch. Both runners moved up on a groundout. Willson Contreras then hit a pop-up in foul territory, which Votto snagged over the tarp. With Votto off balance, Ortega tried to tag up from third but the Reds first baseman fired a strike home to end the inning and the scoring threat.

The Cubs’ next big threat came in Gutierrez’s final inning. David Bell sent Gutierrez back out for the seventh inning at 92 pitches — a perfectly defensible move given the state of the bullpen and the fact that the Reds had a 5-2 lead. Gutierrez struck out the leadoff batter before giving up a bloop double to Ian Happ (64.8 mph off the bat) and walking Patrick Wisdom.

Sean Doolittle entered the game and got a pop-out on his first pitch. He then walked Bryant to load the bases. But Rizzo flew out to center field to end the inning, and we all collectively took a sigh of relief.

Jeff Hoffman threw a scoreless eighth inning, but it wasn’t pretty. He started the inning by giving up a 114.4 mph grounder to Contreras. A diving play by Farmer at shortstop prevented it from becoming a hit. Hoffman then walked David Bote before striking out Jason Heyward. He followed by giving up a double to Nico Hoerner, but Naquin got the ball in quickly to hold Bote at third base. Hoffman struck out Happ to end the inning.

With the Reds expanding their lead to five, Edgar García got the ball in the bottom of the ninth inning. He faced three batters and gave up two home runs, solo shots to Wisdom and Bryant. Bell was forced to burn another reliever, bringing in Amir Garrett for the save opportunity. Garrett walked the first batter he faced, Rizzo, before striking out Contreras and getting a groundout to end the game.

Stats

Most Valuable Players

  • Joey Votto: .192 WPA (Win Probability Added)
  • Sean Doolittle: .109 WPA
  • Kyle Farmer: .096 WPA

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Joey Votto: 114.1 mph | Home run in 3rd inning
  • Tyler Naquin: 108.1 mph | Double in 2nd inning
  • Joey Votto: 105.2 mph | Home run in 1st inning
  • Eugenio Suárez: 103.8 mph | Home run in 6th inning
  • Jonathan India: 103.0 mph | Fielder’s choice in 4th inning

Unluckiest Out of the Day

  • Joey Votto: .900 xBA | Lineout in 5th inning

Highest Velocities By Pitcher

  • Vladimir Gutierrez: 95.7 mph
  • Sean Doolittle: 95.8 mph
  • Jeff Hoffman: 97.6 mph
  • Edgar García: 95.6 mph
  • Amir Garrett: 95.4 mph

Highest Pitch Spins

  • Vladimir Gutierrez: 2,806 rpm | Curveball

Most Pitch Movement

  • Vladimir Gutierrez: 58 inches vertical movement | Curveball
  • Vladimir Gutierrez: 19 inches horizontal movement | Curveball

Team Expected Batting Averages (xBA)

  • Cubs: .221
  • Reds: .296
What’s Next?

The Reds and Cubs are back at it tomorrow for game three of the four-game set. Tyler Mahle will take the mound and square off against Zach Davies.

Photo by Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire


For more in-depth thoughts on today’s game and a preview of what’s ahead, consider subscribing to The Morning Spin, our daily newsletter. We’ll also analyze Reds news, give you a Stat of the Day, answer your burning questions, and more. You can get three issues for free; after that, it’s just $5 per month. Join us!

Matt got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Columbus. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.

4 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
pinson343
pinson343
1 month ago

Overall Bell has handled the bullpen brilliantly this season, somewhat minimizing the losses due to the bullpen. But he makes me nervous when he puts in the team’s worst reliever with a 5 run lead (even in the 9th) and a group of dangerous hitters coming up (at Wrigley, yet). Bell was doing that with C. Perez and now with Garcia. It immediately cost the two insurance runs the Reds had scored in the 9th. If Bote’s hard ground ball had found a hole, then Baez is up as the tying run. 

The Cardinals blew a 5 run 9th inning lead to the Cubs just last week (July 20), giving up 6 runs in a rally that started with their weakest reliever allowing all 3 batters he faced reach base. When to use Garica or whoever the weakest is ? To mop up when you’re BEHIND.

pinson343
pinson343
1 month ago

I’m aware that metrics show that Gutierrez has been lucky in a number of his previous starts, but he pitched well tonight by locating well (needs to keep his fastball up). I think he has potential to be a decent number 5 starter.

Hoffman has the stuff to be a decent reliever, if only he would throw strikes. He nibbles as if he has no confidence in his pitches.

pinson343
pinson343
1 month ago

The Votto HR that I’ve enjoyed the most this week was the one tonight to left center field – vintage Votto. As mentioned, Votto already has more HRs than since 2017. His slugging pct. (over .500) and OPS (nearly .900) are much higher than since 2017. 

He was not only robbed of an MVP during that great season, he was robbed of a Silver Slugger Award, because Paul Goldschmidt had more RBIs ! I would love to know which managers and coaches voted against him. He has never won a Silver Slugger award, which reflects on the biases of the voters.

pinson343
pinson343
1 month ago

Reds with HRs in 5 consecutive games: Eugenio Suarez (2018), Devin Mesoraco (2014), Adam Dunn (2008), Ken Griffey Jr. (2003), Johnny Bench (1972), George Crowe (1957) and Ted Kluszewski (1954).