Full disclosure: I went to see Dave Chappelle at Punchline at The Fillmore Wednesday night. Even though I did watch most of the game, I was moving a little slow Thursday morning. By the time I remembered the Phillies were playing a day game, it was about an hour before first pitch. Figured it would be better to do a double recap than a rushed recap of Wednesday’s game.
So the Phillies wrap up their ten-game road trip with back-to-back losses at Wrigley Field. It was a walk-off grand slam from Jason Heyward on Wednesday night and two clutch at-bats from Anthony Rizzo that accounted for the winning runs on Thursday, but the Phillies beat themselves just as much as the Cubs beat them.
Wednesday night saw a rare poor start from Aaron Nola who allowed three runs over six innings, including a laser-shot home run from Anthony Rizzo to right field. The Phils were able to tie the game up via a three-run homer in the top of the sixth from Aaron Altherr. Dylan Cozens hit his first MLB homer in the top of the ninth, a two-run shot to make the game 5-3 in favor of the Phils. Adam Morgan struggled to close the door and allowed the Heyward walk-off with two outs.
The Phillies didn’t help Nola too much on either side of the ball. The defense committed two errors Wednesday and played poorly on top of that. The Cubs were able to steal three bases to add the cherry on top. Offensively, the Phillies amounted six hits and four walks going 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position (RISP) but the flashiest number on the box score is 16 Phillies strikeouts. The Cubs pitching dummied Phillie after Phillie and on only a couple miss-slips, the Phils hammered two homers. In actuality, Cozens’ homer was off a low-and-away cutter so it’s more impressive on Cozens’ part than a mishap by the Cubs’ Brandon Morrow.
Do I wish Adam Morgan holds on to that game? Absolutely, the Phillies would have gotten away with a game they didn’t deserve to win. They played poorly in all facets of the game and kept handing the Cubs the game. The grizzled veteran Cubbies know not to squander those opportunities. On to Thursday…
Thursday wasn’t too much better, however, the Phillies’ pitching was brilliant for most of his outing. Nick Pivetta looked GREAT over his first four innings and includes Anothy Rizzo re-creating the same home run he hit Wednesday night. The fifth inning saw Pivetta get shaken up, by his own doing. After striking out Ian Happ to start the fifth, Pivetta fielded a dribbling grounder from Cubs C Chirs Gimenez. Pivetta’s throw went wide right of both Gimenez and 1B Carlos Santana and ended up out of play, putting Gimenez on 2nd Base. Pivetta started looking shaky walking Cubs reliever Brian Duensing and then allowing three-straight hits. All of a sudden, the score is 3-1 Chicago with the bases loaded and Anthony Rizzo back up. Rizzo flew one to Dylan Cozens in left field and here’s what happened from there:
Yes, Andrew Knapp tagged out Albert Amora, Jr. However, because of the Buster Posey blocking the plate rule, Amora was ruled safe after the Cubs asked the umpires to look it over. For those unaware, a few years ago, MLB disallowed catchers to block the plate for their own safety after Buster Posey dislocated his ankle at the beginning of the decade. Knapp’s left foot was deemed a violation of the rule, and the Cubs go up 4-1. The Phillies would rebound the very next inning to cut the lead to 4-3 but both offenses would go quietly for the remainder of the game and the Cubs won Thursday’s game 4-3.
While I could continue to rant about this stupid rule and the technicalities surrounding it today and precedents set for going forward. The real reason the Phillies lost today was that of missed opportunities. Early on, Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood was wild and the Phillies were able to get baserunners aplenty. Chatwood’s line would end with four hits, seven walks, six strikeouts, and a hit batter over 4.2 innings but only one Phillies run. The Phillies left 13 runners on base and batted 2 for 11 with RISP Thursday afternoon. I mentioned the Cubs pouncing on openings left by the opposition; they did that both Wednesday and Thursday while the Phillies left plenty of opportunities on the field Thursday at Wrigley Field.
So the Phillies’ ten-game road trip ends with a 3-7 record. It is absolutely not what you would have hoped for going into it. Without beating the dead horse too much more, this trip was defined by poor defensive play, lack of clutch at the plate, and strikeouts. Fun fact, the Phillies set the team record for 10-strikeout games in a single season on Wednesday night–that’s June 6th. I’m still pretty confident the bats will find their way soon but the strikeouts need to go down first and foremost. Put the ball in play and good thing will happen. We’re seeing positive signs from a number of players, we just need a lot more consistency.
The Phils return home to host the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend. Game 1 of this three-game set will be Friday night at 7:05 with Vince Velasquez (4-6) on the bump for the Phils against Jhoulys Chacin (4-1).