Cincinnati Reds (6-9) at Chicago Cubs (4-10)
Friday, April 18 - 2:20 PM EST
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
-107, -101 N/A
The Cincinnati Reds are coming off their first series win of the season, something that has become commonplace whenever they face the Chicago Cubs. The Reds, who begin a three-game road set in Chicago on Friday, generated a bit of momentum by taking two of three at home from the Pittsburgh Pirates after going 1-2 in each of their first four series. Cincinnati has encountered very little resistance from the Cubs recently, winning 23 of the last 29 meetings – including a 14-5 mark in 2013.
The Reds have been even more dominant when they square off against Chicago at Wrigley Field, where they are 15-1 over their last 16 contests. Unsurprisingly, Cincinnati has won the last four season series from the Cubs, who have dropped four in a row after getting blanked on both ends of a doubleheader for the first time since 1962 against the New York Yankees on Wednesday. Chicago ranks second-to-last in the National League in runs scored and has already been shut out four times through 14 games, including twice when Friday’s scheduled starter Jeff Samardzija has taken the mound.
TV: 2:20 p.m. ET, MLB Network, Fox Sports Ohio, WGN (Chicago)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Alfredo Simon (1-1, 1.20 ERA) vs. Cubs RH Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 1.29)
Making only his second start after 99 relief appearances over his first two seasons in Cincinnati, Simon matched his career high with eight innings in Saturday’s hard-luck 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. The 32-year-old Dominican allowed a second-inning solo homer among his five hits to fall to 4-10 in 21 all-time starts. Simon, who saw his stay in the rotation extended after Mat Latos suffered a setback with his right elbow, went 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA against the Cubs in seven trips out of the bullpen in 2013.
Samardzija lasted seven frames for the third time in as many outings, settling for a no-decision despite holding the St. Louis Cardinals to one run and six hits during last Friday’s 6-3, 11-inning victory. The Cubs’ fifth-round pick of the 2006 draft has received very little help from his offense, getting his first run support (one run) of the season in his final inning of work. Samardzija is 1-3 with a 4.92 ERA in 21 career appearances (seven starts) versus the Reds.
1. Cincinnati, which begins a 10-game road trip on Friday, has scored 30 runs while winning three of four after totaling 28 runs over its first 11 contests.
2. Chicago SS Emilio Bonifacio is in a 1-for-21 slump since recording hits in 19 of his first 38 at-bats.
3. Reds 1B Joey Votto has scored six runs and is 7-for-14 with three homers and seven RBIs during Cincinnati’s four-game offensive surge.
PREDICTION: Reds 4, Cubs 2