Igor the Robot throws out the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 5-2. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
And in fine Philadelphia form, it got booed.
That was about the only amusing thing about the Cubs' 5-2 loss to the Phillies, at least from a Cubs fan's standpoint. Once again, the "no margin for error" Cubs were the team that showed up Saturday night.
Randy Wells was going along reasonably well for the first three innings; the Cubs even fashioned him a 1-0 lead in the first, and after two were out and no one on base. Cubs teams rarely do that, so it's worth mentioning -- Starlin Castro singled, and Bryan LaHair doubled him in.
But Wells lost it in the fourth, and just as in his last outing, it was his command that did him in. It wasn't the first walk, to Jim Thome, that bothered me -- it was walking pitcher Joe Blanton with two out, loading the bases. The weird thing about all the walks that Wells has given up this year is that in his career before now, he had a reasonably good walk ratio -- three per nine innings. This year? Nine walks in 8⅔ innings.
After Wells walked Blanton -- on four pitches -- pitching coach Chris Bosio came out to talk to him. I'm reasonably sure he did NOT say "Lay one in there for Jimmy Rollins so he can double in two runs," but that's exactly what happened, and Wells was out of the game, and is almost certainly headed back to Iowa when Ryan Dempster is activated for his next turn, which will come up Thursday in Cincinnati.
There have been some hints that Wells might be kept around in the bullpen -- but why? You have a guy who is having that much trouble with his command and control and you're going to put him, possibly, in situations where you have runners on base and expect him to get out of jams?
Better idea: Send Wells down today and bring up an extra position player until Thursday.
The bullpen did a decent job of keeping the Cubs in the game -- 4⅓ innings, three hits, one run and six strikeouts. Scott Maine, in particular, was excellent and has been really good since his recall -- 4⅔ innings, just one hit allowed and nine strikeouts. It's good to know the Cubs have two effective lefthanders in the bullpen.
One more good thing from this game: Starlin Castro stole two more bases and is now tied for the NL lead with the Dodgers' Dee Gordon (10 steals).
The Cubs will try it again Sunday afternoon in the third of this four-game wraparound series, with what is a much more favorable pitching matchup: Matt Garza vs. Kyle Kendrick. The game preview will post at 11 a.m. CDT.