Wasted opportunities are a thing that makes people angry when watching a game. It’s of course easy for us to sit here and talk about how the players should do this and do that, but to constantly have chances to score and not take advantage of them is how to make losing streaks happen. This game had plenty of chances for the Phillies to take advantage of, but again, the offense couldn’t do it, putting too much pressure on the pitching staff, pressure they couldn’t hold.
It started early for the team. Put into an early 1-0 hole by a Nico Hoerner home run off of Zack Wheeler in the second inning, the bottom of the inning saw Darick Hall draw a four pitch walk from Cubs starter Marcus Stroman. J.T. Realmuto followed by swinging at the first pitch and grounding into a double play. Bryson Stott would single, then go to second on a balk by Stroman, only to see Didi Gregorius weakly ground out to second, ending the inning.
In the third, Alec Bohm singled to lead off the inning, only to be followed by a foul pop out on the first pitch by Odubel Herrera. That was followed by Bohm being picked off of first base by catcher Wilson Contreras.
As Wheeler kept mowing down the Cubs with relative ease, a few hiccups along the way that he didn’t seem too bothered with, the Phillies’ offense continued to slumber their own way through the game. They were unable to muster much of anything until the seventh inning when Hall led off the inning with a double, then was driven on a single to the gap by Realmuto, knotting the game at one.
After that single, Stott walked to put men on first and second with nobody out, a perfect opportunity to tack on some more runs.
It was instead followed by a strikeout by Gregorius and a double play hit into by Bohm, leaving the game tied at one.
The eighth inning was when things got really fun. Brad Hand came on to replace the exceptional Wheeler and made things interesting. Patrick Wisdom doubled to start it, but Hand was able to get the next two outs. He then proceeded to hit Christopher Morel with a pitch to put a runner on first, then walked Nelson Velazquez to load the bases. With Contreras up, Rob Thomson summoned Connor Brogdon to get him out, which he did by inducing a pop out to end the threat. The bottom of half of the eighth got started by Matt Vierling doubling, then moving to third on a Rhys Hoskins ground out. That brought up Nick Castellanos, who has struggled in situations like this this year, somewhat uncharacteristically. Tonight was no different, Castellanos striking out and the Phillies missing yet another opportunity to make something happen to help them win the game.
It went into extra innings where the wheels completely fell off.
Jose Alvarado was the chosen pitcher for the extra frame, Hoerner the zombie runner on second. Alvarado was able to get Wisdom out looking on a questionable call from home plate umpired CB Bucknor, but that wasn’t going to be enough. Hoerner stole third with ease, then scored when Frank Schwindel grounded out to Bohm, who threw wide to home. David Bote doubled to left off of Bohm, putting runners on second and third. Still a situation where the bleeding could have been averted. Instead, Morel singled to right, scoring one, then stole second to have both runners back in scoring position. The next batter was Velazquez, who grounded a ball to third base that Bohm booted, allowing both runners to score, making it 5-1. Andrew Bellatti came in to relieve, but a double by Contreras made it 6-1 and put the game effectively out of reach. The Phillies would score a meaningless run in the bottom of the tenth, but once again, it was the missed opportunities earlier in the game cost the Phillies runs and ultimately, the game.
Should the team desire to make the playoffs, games like the last two have to become the rarity, not the norm. Last night, it was the poor defense on display. Tonight, it was the poor defense and streaky offense that were the issues. As much as they had been touted as being a solid offensive squad, it has been a while since they beat up on someone consistently. They’ll get a chance tomorrow with one more against Chicago before the Braves come to town.