After a string of tough games in which the Phillies’ offense didn’t give the pitching staff much margin for error, the bats delivered on Thursday afternoon, scoring nine runs. The result was a nice, easy win over the Cubs.
Wait, did I say nice and easy? I meant it was an agonizing, nerve-wracking game that assuredly upset a few stomachs in Philadelphia. But in the end, the Phillies did indeed emerge victorious by a score of 9-7, and salvaged a series split with the Cubs.
The Phillies started out well with two runs in the first. They added two more in the third, and then three more in the fourth. Jon Lester may be having a strong season, but on Thursday afternoon, he was no match for J.T. Realmuto and company.
J.T. GOES WAAAAY OUT! pic.twitter.com/gUSOUXvcoZ— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 23, 2019
With Aaron Nola on the mound, the Phillies should have breezed to victory. But the only breeze on Wednesday was the one blowing out of Wrigley Field. The Cubs got on the board with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Then in the sixth, with one runner aboard, Gabe Kapler decided to go to his bullpen. Nola certainly wasn’t sharp, but at only 93 pitches, this seemed like a questionable decision. And much like they did on Opening Day of the 2018 season, the Phillies’ relievers seemed determine to show Kapler just how questionable of a decision it was.
They escaped the sixth unscathed, but it took the services of both Adam Morgan and Seranthony Dominguez to do so. In the seventh, a well-rested Pat Neshek entered the game. Perhaps he was too well rested since the Cubs launched two home runs against him to cut the deficit to two.
Andrew McCutchen doubled home a crucial insurance run in the eighth, but Jose Alvarez seemed determined to give it right back. With two runners aboard and two outs, Kapler was forced to call upon Hector Neris to get out of the inning. He did so, although Javier Baez’s fly out to left field, looked very much like a game-tying homer off the bat.
Neris came back out for the ninth, and as so often happens with Phillies pitchers, he ran into trouble in his second inning of work. The first two Cubs hitters reached base in the ninth, and because they used all their bench players earlier, they sent pitcher Tyler Chatwood to pinch hit. Naturally, he hit an RBI double to left.
At this point, just about every Phillies fan was resigned to watching another excruciating loss. But to our surprise, Neris recovered to get the final two batters.
The Phillies could have conceivably won all four games in this series, but the Cubs could say the same thing. They should probably be happy with the split as they move on to Milwaukee where the Brewers and arch nemesis Ryan Braun await.