What if I told you that Juan Nicasio pitched the ninth inning for the Phillies? You’d probably assume that the game was a blowout, and Nicasio was simply getting in a garbage-time inning. What if I told you that Nicasio was brought into the game with the Phillies trying to protect a one-run lead? You’d probably assume that the Phillies lost. And you’d be right!
Zach Eflin overcame a shaky first inning to give the Phillies a gutty six-inning performance. He was in position to earn a win after Andrew McCutchen gave the team a 2-1 lead with his single in the top of the seventh.
Unfortunately, the Phillies’ bullpen was shorthanded, and the Phillies were forced to use some less-than-ideal options to protect that lead for three innings. Edwin Garcia and Jose Alvarez capably took care of the seventh and eighth, and it was up to Nicasio to pitch the ninth.
On Monday night, Nicasio was able to close out a one-run lead. Asking him to do it a second straight night against a powerful Cubs lineup was too much. Once he walked the leadoff hitter, a blown save seemed inevitable. Soon after, the Cubs tied it on an infield single and Javier Baez won it with an RBI single:
To be fair, this was a tough spot for Nicasio. He was never intended to be more than a back-of-the-bullpen option, but with Hector Neris, Adam Morgan, Seranthony Dominguez, and Pat Neshek (he must have really tired himself out warming up on Monday) all apparently unavailable, he was the only option left.
It would also help if the Phillies’ hitters gave the pitchers a little breathing room. They only managed two hits against Cubs starter Jose Quintana, and felt lucky to have scratched out the two runs they did.
The loss was disappointing, but on the bright side, after having a night off, the Phillies’ key bullpen members (although Neshek might need another night to recover from that stressful warmup session on Monday) should be available to pitch on Wednesday if needed.