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Clench, not clutch: Cubs 2, Phillies 1

The Phillies’ offense came up small against the Cubs

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago Cubs
The Phillies did little but hit ground balls against Marcus Stroman
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re looking for positives from Tuesday night’s game between the Phillies and Cubs, you can point to how Zack Wheeler appears to be healthy and as good as ever. But Wheeler’s status might not matter if the Phillies’ offense doesn’t perform better than it did on Tuesday. The Phillies’ hitters struggled mightily against Marcus Stroman and the Chicago bullpen and wasted Wheeler’s strong start in a 2-1 loss.

Wheeler was making his second start since returning from an injury and looked like his usual dominating self. He gave up one run in six innings, and if not for a pitch limit, could have probably pitched much deeper into the game.

Unfortunately, the Phillies’ offense was unable to match Wheeler’s performance. They faced Marcus Stroman, who gave the Phillies a lot of trouble when he was with the Mets in 2021. They tended to make a lot of ground ball outs, and that trend continued on Tuesday. The Phillies spent most of the game driving early count pitches into the ground towards fielders.

The only run the Phillies managed was on an RBI double by Bryce Harper in the sixth. That was the only time they got a runner past first base.

Once Wheeler was removed, manager Rob Thomson called upon Connor Brogdon. Using Brogdon was questionable mostly because Brogdon has largely sucked lately.

With a little help from some poor defense by Nick Castellanos in right field (Welcome back, Nick!) Brogdon gave up an RBI double to Yan Gomes, staking the Cubs to a 2-1 lead that they would not relinquish.

Stroman left the game after seven innings, but the Phillies kept hitting balls into the ground after he was gone. Both the eighth and ninth innings ended via ground ball double play. The Phillies hit into three double plays on the night and came very close to hitting into two others.

The loss dropped the Phillies to 0-4 on the season against the Cubs. And with two more games in the series, if the Phillies’ offense can’t start delivering some big hits, that record is going to look much worse.