Phillies Late Rally Falls Short in Loss to Cubs
By Matt Veasey
The Philadelphia Phillies dropped the opener of a three game series to the Chicago Cubs on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park.
For the fourth straight game, the Phillies offense produced a crooked number during an inning. Unfortunately in Monday’s series opener against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park, that crooked number didn’t come until the 9th, and it would prove too little, too late.
The Phils spotted the Cubbies a 6-0 cushion, rallied for four runs thanks to a pair of long balls in the final frame, brought the tying run to the plate in dramatic fashion, but fell shot in a 6-4 loss.
The biggest culprit in this latest defeat for the Fightin’ Phils was starting pitcher Adam Morgan, who once again demonstrated what has become increasingly obvious – the lefty is simply not a winning big league starting pitcher.
Morgan (1-5) has now allowed at least eight hits in four of his last five outings, and has given up seven homers across his last five starts. Over his eight total starts now on the 2016 season, Morgan has yielded 52 hits in 41.2 innings.
The Cubs jumped on him early, and he was lucky it wasn’t worse. After Dexter Fowler had led off with a double, Kris Bryant came to the plate with one out.
Bryant drove a powerful shot to right field that was at first ruled a home run, but which following a a lengthy review was overturned to an RBI ground-rule double.
Morgan wasn’t as fortunate in the top of the 4th inning, as Jason Heyward drove a two-run shot out to right, pushing the Cubs lead to 3-0.
The final line on the night for Morgan read six innings pitched, three earned runs and eight hits allowed. He struck out five and walked no one. The one positive thing you can say about Morgan is that he doesn’t surrender free passes. He simply gets hit too hard, too often to be competitive.
In the top of the 7th, the Cubs scored twice more with a little small ball. Three singles, a balk by Phils’ reliever Elvis Araujo, and a nice sacrifice bunt by local product Matt Szczur resulted in the pair of scores to make it a 5-0 game.
Bryant led off the top of the 9th with a double and then raced home on a double by Anthony Rizzo off Brett Oberholtzer to finalize the Cubs’ scoring line at six runs. Then came the Phillies last chance.
In the bottom of the 9th, Justin Grimm came on in relief of Cubs’ starting pitcher Jon Lester, who had been masterful in this one.
Lester (7-3) allowed just four hits across eight shutout innings over which he struck out nine and walked no one.
The pitching change immediately seemed to invigorate the Phillies’ offense. Andres Blanco and Cesar Hernandez led off the inning with singles, and Freddy Galvis followed with a three-run homer to right that cut the deficit in half at 6-3.
Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon then brought on his closer, Hector Rondon, and the righty was greeted by a blast off the bat of Tommy Joseph that cleared the wall in dead center field. The solo shot cut the Chicago lead further down to 6-4, and the fans left in the stands really began to stir.
Rondon settled things down a bit by retiring the next two batters, but an Odubel Herrera pinch-hit single gave the Phillies one final shot to get things even.
Phils’ manager Pete Mackanin looked down his bench and found a legitimate left-handed home run threat in Ryan Howard.
As the veteran ‘Big Piece’ strode to the plate, the home crowd gave him a standing ovation, perhaps as much in support of the former hero in response to the recent bottle-throwing incident as in recognition of this particular big moment.
There would be no heroics on this night, however. Howard put a nice swing on a first-pitch offering from Rondon, but smashed the ball right at Rizzo, who handled the ball and secured the final out.
Following the game, Mackanin was quoted by Evan Webeck of MLB.com as comparing the Phillies offensive struggles and approach to that of a child being constantly bullied and robbed on their way to school.
“When you’re walking to school and every time you take the road to school there’s a big tough guy that beats you up and takes your lunch money, after a while I think you’re going to take a different route. Likewise, the hitters have to figure it out. ‘I’m not going to keep doing what I’m doing. That guy is not going to beat me up and take my money anymore. I’m going to go around him.'”
The Phillies are now just 2-6 on this 10-game home stand which will continue with the penultimate game on Tuesday night in South Philly.