|11:20 AM PT12:20 PM MT1:20 PM CT2:20 PM ET14:20 ET18:20 GMT2:20 11:20 AM MST1:20 PM EST1:50 PM VEN22:20 UAE12:20 PM CT, July 29, 2021
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois Attendance: 32,793
Hot-hitting Joey Votto looks to keep carrying Reds vs. Cubs
Cincinnati Reds reliever Amir Garrett said this week that veteran first baseman Joey Votto is "just aging like fine wine."
With seemingly every swing lately, the 37-year-old Votto vaults closer to the proverbial top shelf.
Votto hit two home runs during Wednesday's 8-2 victory against the host Chicago Cubs, tying a team record by going yard in his fifth consecutive game. He will aim to stretch his homer streak to six games in a row on Thursday afternoon as the surging Reds try to take three of four from their National League Central rivals.
Cincinnati has won five of eight after losing its first four games after the All-Star break, counting on Votto's consistency throughout. Votto has reached base in 22 straight games, contributing nine home runs and 22 RBIs over that span. He has two straight multi-home run games for the first time in his career, and each of his past seven hits have left the ballpark.
"It's certainly been good," Votto said. "I was frustrated early in the season, I was hoping to play well, and it's good that I feel like I'm trending in the right direction."
Thursday could mark the final home game for longtime Cubs stalwarts such as Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
Losers of seven of 11, Chicago is set to begin a six-game road trip following Thursday's matinee at Wrigley Field and seemingly is looking to make some moves before the trade deadline Friday.
Bryant said the Cubs are trying not to dwell on the persistent speculation. Bryant indicated that he and Rizzo even are approaching the situation with good humor.
"(We're) having as good a time with it as you can," Bryant said. "You can't control it. Any time a rumor pops up, I say, I'm going here and Rizz is going there. And I was like, 'Hey, maybe we'll still be playing against each other.' That's what you've got to do. You can't just sit there and sulk or whatever it may be. You can't just think about it non-stop, because then you go crazy and it takes away from what you do on the field."
Cincinnati starting pitcher Luis Castillo (4-10, 4.20 ERA) is set to oppose Chicago's Alec Mills (4-3, 4.55 ERA) in a meeting of right-handers.
Castillo has been dominant over his past seven starts, going 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings. He is coming off Saturday's home victory against the St. Louis Cardinals, when he allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings with three walks and nine strikeouts.
In 13 career starts against the Cubs, Castillo is 4-5 with a 3.93 ERA. Chicago has defeated Castillo twice this season.
Mills, who began 2021 in the bullpen, hasn't pitched into the sixth inning this season. He took a no-decision against Arizona on Saturday, spacing two runs on three hits in five innings with two walks and one strikeout.
Mills is 3-1 with a 3.66 ERA in nine career appearances against the Reds, including six starts.
Cubs infielder Nico Hoerner left Wednesday's game in the seventh inning with right oblique tightness, and manager David Ross after the game offered no immediate timetable for his return. Hoerner was filling in at shortstop as Baez has missed three straight starts with left heel soreness.
--Field Level Media
Updated July 29, 2021