CHICAGO – The Wrigley Field ivy gave a second life to Cincinnati Reds starter Wade Miley and, perhaps, a second wind to the Reds’ playoff chances.
With a runner on first base and two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Patrick Wisdom hit a rocket into the left-center gap. Miley didn’t hide his frustration, shouting as he slammed his glove hand to the ground.
The ball bounced at the base of the left-field wall and didn’t drop out of the iconic Ivy-covered outfield wall. Left fielder Max Schrock – and virtually all his teammates in the infield – raised their hands to signal the play was dead because the ball was stuck.
Ian Happ, the runner on first, would’ve easily scored if he wasn’t instructed to return to third base on the ground-rule double. Miley received a gift from the ivy and made the most of it, pitching out of the inning and lifting the Reds to a 4-3 win against the Chicago Cubs in front of 24,925 fans.
Miley was phenomenal, permitting one run and five hits across seven innings. He struck out eight and matched a career-high with 21 swings and misses, dominating hitters with his changeup and cutter.
After Wisdom’s ground-rule double, putting runners on second and third with two outs, Miley induced a soft comebacker to the mound against Matt Duffy to end the inning. He even reached 94 mph in his at-bat, the hardest pitch he’s thrown all season.
Miley has held opposing batters to a .158 batting average with runners in scoring position this year, a reason why the 34-year-old lefty has been one of the top pitchers in the National League.
It was the 10th time Miley pitched at least seven innings in a start this season. He gave up a solo homer to Willson Contreras with two outs in the third inning, but the Cubs didn’t have any other runners touch second base until Wisdom’s two-out ground-rule double in the sixth inning.
The Reds had a 4-1 lead entering the bottom of the eighth inning. Michael Lorenzen, who called his changeup the “worst pitch on the face of the planet,” after giving up the game-winning run in Monday’s loss, surrendered a solo homer on a changeup to pinch-hitter Rafael Ortega.
After shortstop Kyle Farmer made an over-the-shoulder running grab in the Bermuda Triangle between left field, center field and shortstop, Lorenzen allowed his second solo homer of the inning.
The insurance runs were gone – Mike Moustakas and Farmer hit back-to-back RBI singles in the top of the eighth inning after the Cubs intentionally walked Joey Votto with first base open – but Mychal Givens pitched a scoreless ninth inning to secure the win.
Jonathan India gave the Reds a lead on the first swing of the game, pummeling a 91-mph sinker over the center-field wall for a 422-foot home run. It was India’s 19th home run of the season and his fifth career leadoff homer.
The Reds have been searching for years to find a strong leadoff hitter and India has been the perfect match. They have a franchise-record 34 homers from the leadoff spot this season, which trails only the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays.
Two batters later, Nick Castellanos clobbered a 446-foot solo homer to straightaway center field, mashing an elevated changeup from Cubs starter Adrian Sampson. Castellanos received cheers from Wrigley Field crowd before his at-bat, a nod to how well he played in his two months with the Cubs in 2019.