Cubs try to get back on track against Reds

MLB

While racial and social injustice issues are on their collective mind, and the rest of baseball, the Chicago Cubs look to halt a current rough stretch.

The visiting Cubs try to avoid a third straight defeat when they visit the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.

While a host of major league games were boycotted on Wednesday night in the wake of unrest and violence following the police shooting of Black 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., Chicago fell 7-6 at Detroit.

Veteran outfielder Jason Heyward pulled himself from the Cubs’ lineup before that game, but encouraged his teammates to play.

“We’ve just got to keep bringing awareness,” Heyward, batting .320 in eight road games this season, told the Cubs’ official website. “There’s no plan for this. This our life. This is our livelihood.”

At the moment, the Cubs are slated to open a four-game set with the Reds on Friday. Whether Heyward, or any other prominent Chicago players, opt out remains to be seen.

“This is not the end of this conversation,” first-year Cubs manager David Ross said.

On the field, Chicago still leads the National League Central, but is 5-9 since winning 13 of its first 16 contests. The Cubs did take two of three at Cincinnati last month in what was slated to be a four-game set. However, a rainout forced a doubleheader to be scheduled for Saturday.

In the only loss during that series, scheduled Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (3-3, 3.55 ERA) was touched for six runs, seven hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings of a 12-7 loss on July 29. The right-hander will try to avoid a third straight losing decision after he yielded three runs on two homers and five other hits in a 7-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday.

Cincinnati enters this series after it snapped a four-game losing streak by sweeping Thursday’s doubleheader at Milwaukee. The Brewers and Reds had mutually agreed to boycott Wednesday’s scheduled game.

After totaling six runs in those previous four games, Cincinnati won 6-1 and 6-0 on Thursday to complete a 4-6 road trip.

“We scored early (Thursday) and we kept scoring,” catcher Curt Casali told the Reds’ official website.

Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker went a combined 9-for-14 with three homers and seven RBIs in the two Thursday games. Castellanos, who has 10 homers on the season, went 5-for-11 with two of those home runs and seven RBIs versus Chicago last month.

Teammate Joey Votto, who did not play in either game of the doubleheader, is 0-for-18 in his last five. However, he’s batting .367 with three home runs versus Hendricks.

According to the Reds’ official website, Tyler Mahle (0-1, 4.41 ERA) is slated to start the series opener on Friday. The right-hander allowed three runs, five hits and two walks over three innings of a 6-2 loss at St. Louis on Saturday.

Mahle gave up two runs and six hits over four innings while not factoring in the decision of an 8-5 loss to the Cubs this year. Chicago stars Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber are a combined 8-for-23 (.348) with a homer each against Mahle.

Baez enters this set batting .348 during a six-game hitting streak.

–Field Level Media

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