The Cubs came to town this weekend, beginning the series with a matchup of Jose Quintana and Nick Pivetta. Pivetta has struggled lately, running up deep pitch counts early and generally being unable to deliver quality innings for a team that truly needs them. Of course, managing the Cubs is Joe Maddon who, as you probably remember, managed the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 World Series against the Phillies. In that series, as you also might remember, the ending was delayed by a monsoon that hit the city of Philadelphia in the middle of game five. The umpires then had the sense to postpone the game because of the field conditions that night. Apparently, tonight, the umpires weren’t as considerate.
With the game being played in a steady rain for most of the evening, it all unfolded rather uneventfully. Pivetta ran into a little bit of trouble early, loading the bases with one out in the third inning, but escaped unscathed. However, through four innings, he had thrown 86 pitches, once again racking up pitches and being unable to go further than he wanted to. Meanwhile, Quintana had a little bit of trouble in the first inning, giving up a walk and a single but other than that, he had very little trouble early on with this lineup.
In the fifth, Pivetta served up his only mistake, leaving a hanging curveball to Javier Baez that he knew what to do with.
It was the worst pitch Pivetta threw all night and he paid for it, as he ended his night after five innings having given up the lead to the Cubs, 1-0.
After Victor Arano retired the Cubs in the top of the sixth, the Phillies made noise in their half of the inning. After Jose Bautista struck out to start the inning, Roman Quinn continued making his case to be in the lineup every day. His double ended a string of dominance by the Cubs pitcher.
Roman Quinn doubles on the first pitch he sees, snapping a string of 14 straight retired for Quintana. Phillies first baserunner since the first inning.— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) September 1, 2018
Rhys Hoskins just missed a pitch and flied out to left. That brought up Cesar Hernandez, who had a chance to tie up the ballgame. It went well.
Unfortunately, questionable baserunning by Hernandez prevented the Phillies from being able to capitalize on this hit, ending the inning with the score tied at one.
The top of the seventh brought some fun baseball. Arano started the inning, giving up a single to Tommy La Stella to begin the inning. After David Bote lined out for the first out, manager Gabe Kapler went to his bullpen and summoned Adam Morgan to face Daniel Murphy. Murphy being Murphy, he dumped a single into left field, putting runners on first and second with one out. With Baez coming up, you’d have thought Kapler would make another move and bring in a right handed pitcher.
You’d be wrong.
Morgan was left in to face Baez and got him to line out to Bautista in right field. Luckily for the Phillies, La Stella at second forgot the outs and took off on contact. That made a double play easy for the Phillies, ending the threat.
In the top of the eighth, Morgan started it by striking out Anthony Rizzo before being removed in a double switch. Seranthony Dominguez, the pitcher replacing Morgan, then got Ben Zobrist swinging. That’s when the fun started. Albert Almora singled, then went to second on a wild pitch. The next batter, Wilson Contreras, hit a groundball to Maikel Franco, who had just entered in the double switch. Franco’s throw pulled Carlos Santana off the base, even though replay showed he did hold the bag, putting men on the corners with two outs. When Dominguez walked Ian Happ, it loaded the bases for pinch hitter Victor Caratini. Dominguez bore down, firing some nasty sliders that fooled Caratini and ended the inning.
When the Phillies went down in their half of the eighth, it meant that it was Neris Time the ninth. Sticking to his recent trend of dominating outings, Neris set the Cubs down 1-2-3, highlighted by an emotional strikeout of Baez to end the inning.
That set the stage for the bottom of the ninth.....
....in which nothing happened.
Now, if you’ve been following any of us on Twitter, you’d see the railing we have been doing against Kapler for repeatedly bringing relievers back out onto the mound to begin innings after they have just completed an emotional outing the previous inning. He has not heeded our calls, even tonight choosing to bring Neris back out to face Rizzo to begin the tenth. He promptly walked him, after which Kapler then went to Pat Neshek. Fortune must favor the bold, as Neshek got Zobrist to ground into a double play. Almora then popped out to Hernandez, ending the tenth before it had a chance to go bad. That, in turn, set the stage for the bottom of the tenth....
....WHERE THE GREATEST TRADE ACQUISITION OF ALL TIME, ASDRUBAL CABRERA, HIT A HOME RUN TO END THE BALL GAME!!!!!!
With the Pirates also defeating the Braves, it moved the Phillies within two games of the division lead. Even with all the bad baseball they have been playing lately, there is still a lot of time left for them to make a move.
Tomorrow, Zach Eflin goes up against Kyle Hendricks as the Phillies try to take the series.