Len Kasper mentioned this on the broadcast Friday night, and surely it’s just a coincidence, but the Cubs have now played five straight games in the state of Pennsylvania — four in Pittsburgh, one in Philadelphia — where their only scoring came on a solo home run.
Friday night’s long ball came courtesy of Javier Baez, but another solo homer off Steve Cishek saddled the Cubs with a 2-1 loss to the Phillies in 10 innings. That wasted a really fine effort from Jose Quintana, one of his best of the year: six innings, three hits, one run, seven strikeouts, only 88 pitches.
The aforementioned home run came courtesy of Javier Baez in the fifth inning, his 29th [VIDEO].
Baez is having an outstanding season:
Javier Báez homered tonight, giving him 72 extra-base hits this season.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 1, 2018
Kris Bryant led the #Cubs with 71 XBH last season.
Still a month to go.
#Cubs Baez has 29 HRs and 98 RBI. He's thisclose to 30/100: "I'm just trying to keep my approach the same way. Hopefully it happens and if it does, I'm happy for me and what I've done and obviously for the team."— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) September 1, 2018
The Cubs led 1-0 at that point but could have had quite a few more runs. They had a pair of walks in the second inning, but got nothing in part because Anthony Rizzo grounded into a double play. In the third they loaded the bases on three singles with Rizzo and Ben Zobrist due up, but Rizzo struck out and Zobrist grounded out. They had two runners on in the fourth on a walk and single by Quintana — nothing doing there either. In fact, Q had two singles Friday night, the first two-hit game of his career (and one-third of his career total of six hits).
So when Q’s batting-order spot came up in the seventh, Joe Maddon sent Tommy La Stella up to bat for him, even though Q probably could have gone another inning, despite having allowed the tying run in the sixth.
TLS singled, and that set a record:
Congrats to Tommy on the record. Also:
Tommy La Stella has 21 pinch hits this season.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 1, 2018
Nobody else in the Majors this season has more than 13.#Cubs
Daniel Murphy later singled, bringing up Baez with runners on first and second with one out.
That’s with ONE out. When Baez hit a sharp line drive to right field, La Stella apparently forgot how many outs there were, because he took off at full speed. When Jose Bautista caught Baez’s drive, TLS was easily doubled off second base, ending the inning.
Justin Wilson threw a scoreless seventh, and the Cubs loaded the bases yet again in the eighth, on a single, throwing error (the Phillies challenged but lost that) and walk. Victor Caratini batted for Wilson and struck out.
Jorge De La Rosa, who’s been really solid for the Cubs since he was signed three weeks ago, retired all three batters he faced in the eighth and the first two in the ninth. Cishek was summoned to face Wilson Ramos and struck him out and the game went on to extras.
Rizzo walked leading off the 10th, but Zobrist hit into a double play and Albert Almora Jr. lined out for the last out of the inning, and then with one out in the bottom of the 10th Asdrubal Cabrera slammed a Cishek pitch into the seats in right-center and the Phillies had a walkoff win. It was the fifth walkoff homer of Cabrera’s career. FWIW, the major-league record for career walkoff homers is 13, held by Jim Thome.
Frustrating? Yes. Bad for the standings in the N.L. Central? Yes, because both the Brewers and Cardinals won Friday night, so St. Louis moves to within 3½ games of the Cubs and Milwaukee is now four behind.
But in the end, I’m going to focus on Quintana’s excellent start and hope he’ll continue to do this during September. Cubs starting pitching has been excellent lately:
#Cubs starting pitching: 2.42 ERA over last 15 games.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 1, 2018
The Cubs finished August 18-10. Words of wisdom on that from Joe:
#Cubs finish August 18-10. Said Maddon: "I'll take an 18-10 September, if there's that many games"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) September 1, 2018
In fact, there are exactly that many games remaining in the 2018 season for the Cubs, 28, and if they go 18-10 in September, that would mean a 97-win season and likely a division title. We’d all take that, I think.
The game was played in a steady light to moderate rain, which could have affected hitters on both sides. Not a complaint, just an observation. The forecast for Saturday night is better. The second game of this series will feature Kyle Hendricks starting for the Cubs and Zach Eflin for the Phillies. Game time again is 6:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on NBC Sports Chicago.
Hopefully, the offense gets going and breaks that Pennsylvania solo streak.