In the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs, the Reds broadcast flashed a graphic displaying the National League’s top five team ERAs. On that list were, you guessed it, both the Reds and the Cubs. And though many broadcasts reach to farfetched distances to find tables an stats that relate to both teams playing, that graphic was perfectly fitting.
The Cubs beat the Reds 4-2 in a showcase of the MLB’s two most surprising starting pitchers this season and they showcased why they’ve earned that label.
Cincinnati’s stud, 23-year-old starting pitcher Tony Cingrani, continued to flaunt his strikeout fastball and his poise as he held the Reds to two runs over seven innings of work. He was still deceiving hitters with his 93 MPH heater, was still somewhat keeping them off balance with his slider-curve and changeup, and sat down nine Cubs via strikes. It was pretty, though not as pretty as the outing by his counterpart.
The Cubs’ starting pitcher, 29-year-old Carlos Villanueva, improved his ERA to 1.53, struck out six, and only let up three hits while continuing his streak of shutting down premier offenses. Including tonight’s outing vs. Cincy, Villanueva has shut down the Texas Rangers’ potent offense, the San Francisco Giants and the Atlanta Braves. He struck out nine of his own and only allowed five hits.
Neither pitcher factored in the decision, though, as the game didn’t end until the 10th inning by a Darwin Barney homer.
While commenting on the ERA graphic up on the screen, Cincinnati’s commentators also noticed how, of the top five teams, four had more wins than losses and one was under .500. That bad team? The Cubs. On Tuesday, though, the roles were reversed.
Quick take on Cubs:
There are two ways to perceive the Cubs’ effective starting pitching. If you’re a pessimistic (or knowledgeable) Cubs fan and realized the team would struggle this year, then you’ll see their pitching as a portent for success once their lineup hopefully catches up next year, but if you’re one for immediate success, you’ll see it as a symbol of how dreadful the Cubs lineup is.
With a mix of misfortune — their Pythagorean record states they should only be two or three games below .500 instead of seven — the Cubs continue to disappoint fans with glaringly horrendous hitting and defense despite hot pitching to start the year.