After enjoying a one-of-a-kind, surreal atmosphere, the Chicago Cubs and host Cincinnati Reds return to a typical major league setting Saturday for the second contest of a three-game series.
Friday was a scheduled off day for both clubs after the Cubs prevailed 4-2 on Thursday night in the second "Field of Dreams" game at Dyersville, Iowa. The Reds return home looking to snap a four-game losing streak.
"Obviously we wanted to go out and win that game," Reds manager David Bell said. "Disappointed there, but there is no way anything can take away from the day we had here. It was a great experience. I heard so many people throughout our clubhouse saying it's something they'll remember for the rest of their lives."
Cubs left-hander Drew Smyly was as thrilled with the setting as he was with picking up the victory.
"I went and stood on the mound just to kind of get the perspective of what it was going to be like," Smyly said. "I knew this was going to be a lot different than a normal major league game."
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, who escaped serious injury after rolling his left ankle rounding second base in the third inning, appreciated everything about playing in the novelty game.
"It made me feel like I was in the movie," Contreras said.
Reds right-hander Graham Ashcraft (5-2, 3.94 ERA) gets the starting nod Saturday. The rookie will be making his 15th career start and second against the Cubs.
On June 30 at Chicago, Ashcraft was crushed for seven runs on seven hits over 2 1/3 innings to absorb the loss in a 15-7 rout.
On Sunday at Milwaukee, Ashcraft gave up one run over 5 2/3 innings but was left with a no-decision when the bullpen blew a late lead. It was the third time Ashcraft left the game with a lead only to have the bullpen falter. Cincinnati still is 10-4 in starts made by Ashcraft.
The Cubs, who have won five of their last seven games, counter with right-hander Adrian Sampson (0-3, 3.83), who is making his ninth start (11th appearance).
Sampson allowed three runs in six innings Sunday against the Miami Marlins to take the loss. The 30-year-old right-hander has thrown at least five innings in seven of his eight starts and permitted less than three runs in six of them.
Sampson will be making his third career start against the Reds, and second at Cincinnati. He is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA against the Reds and has given up a home run in each of his previous two starts against them.
After missing most of the first two months with an injured right hamstring and aggravating it on Monday, the Reds' Jonathan India was drilled with a Smyly fastball on the left leg in the first inning Thursday. He left the game to start the fourth inning.
"He's going to be day to day," Bell said. "It's not fractured. It just got him in a bad spot that as the game went on, it got more swollen, and he lost all flexibility and had a hard time moving. It wouldn't surprise me if he was back in there Saturday."
--Field Level Media