The Reds played the Chicago Cubs in the second ever Field of Dreams game on Thursday in Dyersville, Iowa. Despite the physical location being more than 500 miles away from Great American Ballpark and just over 200 miles away from Wrigley Field, the Reds were designated as the home team. The two teams played in front of a sellout crowd of 7,823.
The beginning of the game was more of a nightmare than a dream for the Reds and Nick Lodolo. After retiring the first two batters on ground balls, Lodolo hit a batter, then allowed a double, a single, and another double to the next four batters. That gave the Cubs an early 3-0 lead before the Reds even came to bat. Lodolo would avoid further damage, again inducing a ground ball to get out of the inning.
Lodolo rebounded in a big way, striking out the side in the second. He ran into more trouble in the third though, walking the leadoff batter and then allowing a single. Cubs catcher Willson Contreras appeared to roll his ankle rounding second base, falling to the ground in pain, and eventually being tagged for the first out. Contreras would end up finishing the game. Patrick Wisdom proceeded to steal second base during the next at bat, putting a runner in scoring position with one out. Lodolo then walked another batter before getting two outs to end the inning.
The fourth inning was also a bit of a struggle for Lodolo. He allowed three singles that led to the fourth Cubs run. Ultimately, Lodolo would get out of the inning with some aid from Aristides Aquino‘s arm. PJ Higgins attempted to advance from second to third on a fly ball caught by Aquino, and was thrown out. Aquino now has 8 outfield assists this season, while starting only 31 games.
Lodolo came back out to start the fifth, and sandwiched a pair of walks between a pair of strikeouts before being lifted from the game. He threw 98 pitches, 60 of which went for strikes, across his 4 2/3 innings. Lodolo allowed four runs on seven hits, walking four and striking out six.
Buck Farmer got the first batter he faced to ground out, ending the inning. Farmer would pitch the sixth as well, allowing a single but otherwise getting out of the inning clean. He struck out one.
Joel Kuhnel retired the side in order on three groundouts in the seventh. Alexis Díaz pitched the eighth, allowing a leadoff single before recording three consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.
Hunter Strickland pitched the ninth, allowing a single and walking a batter but holding the Cubs scoreless. He struck out two, but seemed to get away with a pitch right down the middle on the second strikeout.
The Reds had multiple baserunners in each of the first three innings but failed to score. Jonathan India was hit by a pitch to lead off the Reds’ first inning, and that was followed two batters later with a Kyle Farmer single. Similarly, Albert Almora Jr. walked to lead off the second and Aristides Aquino followed with a single. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the third inning saw a Joey Votto walk followed by, you guessed it, a Donovan Solano single. The fourth inning broke the cycle, but not exactly in a positive way. It was the first inning where the Reds were unable to put a runner on base.
Matt Reynolds, who replaced India at second base after the third inning, was the next Reds’ hitter to reach base, leading off the fifth inning with a single. It was reported that India left the game due to a contusion on his lower left leg from the hit by pitch. Solano would lead off the sixth the same way, with a single for the Reds’ only baserunner of the inning.
José Barrero got in on the action in the seventh, leading off with a double. Jake Fraley, pinch hitting for catcher Austin Romine, drew a walk to make it first and second. Reynolds followed with a two run double to get the Reds on the board.
The Reds went down in order in the eighth, and that left Barrero, Fraley (who had remained in the game on defense), and Reynolds due up again for the ninth. Barrero once again chased a low and away breaking ball for strike three, seemingly his biggest weakness at the plate right now. In order for Barrero to be a successful MLB hitter, he will need to learn to lay off that pitch. Fraley and Reynolds were unable to reach base, and the Reds fell to the Cubs 4-2.
The Reds will be off on Friday before returning to GABP on Saturday to finish the series against the Cubs. Graham Ashcraft is scheduled to face off against right hander Adrian Sampson on Saturday.