Yesterday on the south side of Chicago, fans could only gape at their TVs in horror as an unlikely comeback win unfolded. The Royals pecked away at the White Sox in the ninth inning and somehow kept three outs off the board long enough to score seven runs and walk it off. Perhaps today on the north side of the city, Chicago's other home team entered the ninth leading their competitors by a 7-1 score. Fortunately for the Cubs, they weren't playing the Royals.
No; instead, they drew the Phillies, a team they throttled and kicked for the past two nights, making today's match-up a chance for a casual sweep of a plummeting team. That the Phillies could be a threat never seemed to occur to any of them, even when Tommy Joseph led off the final inning with a solo shot, his third of the year and second of the road trip, but sadly one that meant little with the gaping deficit. The only other Phillies run had come on a Tyler Goeddel solo shot, the only run Cubs starter John Lackey gave up on the day, with six strikeouts over seven innings.
Three quick outs followed, ending on a Cesar Hernandez strikeout, and the Cubs swept the Phillies out of Wrigley without needing most of the offense they were able to produce.
It was Vince Velasquez's turn out there during the putrid 1-4 road trip, and he helped get the team up to five losses with a particularly rattling bottom of the fifth. In truth, the Phillies couldn't get the Cubs to stop scoring at all until the fourth. They frustrated VV with an Anthony Rizzo RBI single in the first; a Miguel Montero one-run blast in the second; and a three-run Ben Zobrist dagger in the third, that was only really the dagger if you can imagine the Cubs taking the dagger back out of the Phillies and stabbing them several more times. Which they did.
By the time Kris Bryant and Miguel Montero whacked in a run each with singles in the fifth, Velasquez had seen his last batter. "Brett Oberholtzer is picking up a baseball," Scott Franzke told us, which is good news for no one. Oberholtzer came on and got out of the fifth, then used six strikes to get the first two outs of the sixth. Then he walked three straight hitters, including a wild pitch and a bounce pass, but somehow escaped the inning without an earned run. In fact, David Hernandez, Colton Murray, and Hector Neris all pitched without allowing anymore runs.
But on the other side of the ball, the Phillies looked, as they have the entire weekend, lethargic, outmatched, and clueless. Despite getting their lead-off man for three straight innings from the third to the fifth, there were never any real assaults mounted by the lineup. Odubel Herrera's swings-and-misses today were far more gregarious than usual, Freddy Galvis saw a 44-game error-less streak end, and the Phillies were swept out of Chi-town for the first time since 1995.
It was bad. But not for everyone! As the Phillies wilt after too long in the sun, the Cubs continue streaking towards their seemingly inevitable World Series appearance.