Saturday, May 28, 2016

Phillies Run Into A Pack Of Vicious Cubs

GAME RECAP: Cubs Crush Phillies 6-2

The young and the old showed off their home run swings as 24-year-old sluggers Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant each hit a solo shot and veteran David Ross belted a three-run blast to power the Cubs to a 6-2 victory over the Phillies on Friday at rainy Wrigley Field. All three homers came off Phillies lefty Adam Morgan, who lasted four-plus innings. Jon Lester, who couldn't make it out of the third inning in his last outing, went 6 1/3 innings for the win. The Phillies took advantage of errors by Dexter Fowler and Javier Baez to score an unearned run in the third against Lester. Cubs manager Joe Maddon called them mistakes that they never make. "Dexter catches that ball 101 times out of 100," Maddon said. The difference for Lester was his ability to be more consistent with his pitches, especially his curve. The previous outing didn't faze him. "I wasn't worried about my start at all," Lester said. And the Phillies were aggressive. "They were swinging -- they were swinging from jump street, so to execute the fastball was important," Ross said. Maddon gave Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward the day off, and the team didn't miss a beat. The Cubs (32-14) are off to their best start since the team opened the 1918 season at 32-13.

  • Morgan had given up only two home runs in 25 2/3 innings this season entering Friday. In his first start at Wrigley Field, Morgan surrendered two homers in the fourth inning alone, when Soler took a hanging 1-2 slider off the left-field scoreboard and Ross smashed a 1-0 changeup that almost reached Waveland Avenue. Morgan also gave up a homer to Bryant in the fifth, when the first baseman turned on an inside fastball on a 1-2 count. "You can overcome a solo home run, but that home run to Ross, that was the one that got us out of the game," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
  • After a 56-minute rain delay, the Phillies momentarily looked rejuvenated. When play resumed with one out and a runner on second in the top of the seventh, Freddy Galvis singled to move Odubel Herrera to third. Maikel Franco followed up with an RBI single on a slow roller aided by the wet infield grass, but the rally didn't materialize as Tommy Joseph and Carlos Ruiz struck out to end the inning. "I think we had 10 hits and one double, so there's not a lot to say other than we couldn't string enough hits together to get anything going," Mackanin said. "We had some opportunities and didn't capitalize."
  • "Nobody's solid in their spots. Last year, I always had to talk about how you audition every day. Every time you go out there, you got to keep doing it. At this level, consistency is the hallmark of a good Major League player." -- Mackanin, on if Morgan's rotation spot could be in jeopardy.
  • In the Chicago seventh inning, Bryant walked with two outs and advanced on a wild pitch. The Phillies challenged whether Bryant was safe at second, and after a review, the call stood.
  • Cubs players have been counting down Ross' home runs, and they could finally celebrate the veteran's 100th career blast. Soler led off the fourth with his moonshot, and after Addison Russell walked and Javier Baez singled, Ross, 39, hit his milestone homer. He celebrated in the dugout with his teammates, then tipped his cap to the fans. "The boys were excited, I was excited," Ross said. "My favorite part while this has been going on is rounding second base and looking in the dugout. It makes me smile every time seeing everybody so happy for me and counting down for me. They're as happy as I am. That makes me feel good." Ross is the oldest player in franchise history to hit his 100th homer as a Cub. 
  • "Who wants a picture with me? I'm surprised he didn't ask for [Bryant] or [Rizzo]." -- Ross, on the fan who retrieved his 100th home run ball and asked for a photo with the catcher in exchange.
Jerad Eickhoff will make his 10th start of the season for the Phillies against the Cubs on Saturday at 2:20 p.m. ET. He threw seven scoreless innings in his latest start, a win against the Braves.


Shake It Off – Maikel Franco's prediction was right. The Phillies' third baseman said his right ankle is doing great, and he was in Friday's lineup against the Cubs just as he said he would be after exiting Wednesday's game vs. the Tigers. Franco suffered a mild ankle sprain in the seventh inning of that game when he jammed his ankle sliding into second base. Franco didn't leave the game immediately, but he exited between innings. "I wanted to still play, but sometimes it's not my decision," Franco said. Franco used the team's off-day Thursday to recover, saying he spent the day "just chilling" while icing his ankle. Phillies trainers agreed Franco was ready to play in the opener vs. the Cubs. He reinforced that in the Phils' 6-2 loss to the Cubs, going 1-for-2 with two RBIs and a walk. In four career games at Wrigley Field, he's 5-for-15 with a home run and five RBIs. "Everything is good," Franco said.

Lingering Injuries – Outfielder Cody Asche and left-hander Mario Hollands each had their rehab assignment transferred to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Friday. Through nine rehab games, Asche -- on the disabled list with a right oblique strain -- is 5-for-34 with two home runs. Hollands, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, has allowed only one run in 8 2/3 innings during his six rehab appearances.

Heading To The DL – Phillies prospect Mark Appel, the former No. 1 overall Draft pick who is currently rated the club's No. 4 prospect and the No. 65 prospect in the Major Leagues by, was placed on the disabled list Friday with a right shoulder strain. In a corresponding move, Phillies No. 30 prospect Ben Lively was promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley from Double-A Reading, where he was 7-0 with a 1.87 ERA in nine starts for the Fightin Phils. Lively, who was acquired from the Reds for Marlon Byrd during the offseason, held Eastern League hitters to a .185 average, striking out 49 in 53 innings while walking 15 and posting a 0.94 WHIP. Appel, whose fastball normally reaches the mid-90s, suffered from a significant drop in velocity in his last start, struggling to hit 90 mph on Sunday for Lehigh Valley. The 24-year-old is 3-3 with a 4.46 ERA in eight starts at Triple-A this season, with 34 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings.

Today In Phils History – While his flailing pales in comparison to some of the modern day sluggers, Mike Schmidt wasn’t a stranger to the strikeout and he was quite familiar with the homerun as well which was exemplified on this day in 1983 when he followed 4 strikeouts (and an uncommon fielding error) with a game winning homerun in the bottom of the ninth. The following decade, in 1990, Lenny Dykstra made his only appearance as a Phillie on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Dykstra was part of the overhaul of the Phillies roster that included Steve Jeltz being traded to the Royals after the 1989 season. I mention Jeltz because he was born on this day in 1959, 40 years after Art Lopatka.

The Phillies are currently 26-22 this season putting them on pace to beat most preseason predictions. The Phillies finished the spring exceeding most expectations compiling a record of 15-11-3 (18-11-3 if you include the exhibition games against Reading and the University of Tampa). All time, the Phillies are 52-46-0 on this day. I expect the Phillies to finish in the bottom half of the division but not last in the NL East by finishing the season with a 77-85 record. Let the rebuild begin!

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