Well, the weather was nice. It’s only May 23 and today, upper 70s with light breezes, unlimited sunshine and low humidity, could stand as the nicest day of the entire summer, once summer 2019 is in the books.
The baseball? Uh... next question?
The Cubs lost to the Phillies 9-7 in a game of bad starting pitching, mediocre relief pitching, and plenty of missed opportunities.
And Tyler Chatwood — Tyler Chatwood! — hit a pinch-double. Let’s start with that, shall we? [VIDEO]
Now that was fun! The last Cubs pitcher, before Thursday, to have an extra-base hit as a pinch-hitter in a game that did not go to extra innings was Rodney Myers, who had a pinch double against the Rockies in a 13-12 win at Wrigley May 4, 1999.
The rest of this game? Uh... not so much.
Jon Lester, who didn’t have a good outing Sunday at Washington, wasn’t good in this one either. He got in trouble with hard-hit balls and walks in the first inning, and was lucky to get out of it with only two runs allowed. He gave up two more in the third when J.T. Realmuto put a ball on Waveland with a runner on base. Meanwhile, Aaron Nola was dominating the Cubs over the first three innings, allowing just a walk to Jason Heyward in the second, who Nola then picked off.
Lester served up another homer in the third, a three-run shot to Jean Segura, and was allowed to finish the inning having thrown 84 pitches and giving up seven runs (four earned). I have to wonder if there’s something bothering Jon; his next start would wind up being Tuesday in Houston and I hope he’ll be all right for it.
So it’s 7-0 and some of us (well, me, anyway) are starting to think about the next series, but the Cubs began to make it a game. A walk, three straight hits, another walk and a double play put three runs on the board in the fourth inning, and at 7-3 in the fourth glimmers of hope began to light up.
Rowan Wick, just recalled from Iowa, made his Cubs debut, and it was neither great nor awful. He gave up a single just down the lind and a bloop double that went into the seats, and a groundout scored a run. That would turn out to be important later.
One encouraging event Thursday was the inning thrown by Carl Edwards Jr., the seventh. He struck out the side, throwing 12 strikes in 18 pitches, and he hit 96 on the Wrigley pitch speed meter. If this is the CJ we’re going to see going forward, that’s a real important addition to this bullpen.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Cubs teed off on Pat Neshek, who’s usually a reliable reliever (and, who I learned today, is the only player in major-league history to wear number 93). David Bote singled to lead off the inning, and Kyle Schwarber was next [VIDEO].
That ball: Crushed!
It’s now 8-5... but not for long, right, Anthony Rizzo? [VIDEO]
Check out the launch angle on this laser beam of a homer:
8-6. Well... it’s the seventh inning and the wind’s still blowing out to right field, so...
Kyle Ryan entered the game and allowed two baserunners, then Brandon Kintzler relieved him. By this time Joe had started to run out of bench players, and had just weakened his defense by moving Victor Caratini (who was at third base, of all places) behind the plate, Willson Contreras to right field (where he had played all of two games in the big leagues before today) and Jason Heyward to center.
Heyward is a good outfielder, but Andrew McCutchen’s double went over his head and scored the Phillies’ ninth run. Would Albert Almora Jr. have caught that ball? Maybe. That run would turn out to be important.
The Cubs didn’t score in the eighth, and Kintzler got through the ninth unscored-on, and so it was a two-run deficit facing Phillies reliever Hector Neris.
Rizzo ran the count to 3-1 leading off the inning and then bunted his way on. Contreras walked, bringing up Heyward, who had walked in all four of his plate appearances in this game. He ran the count full and swung and missed, striking out.
With no bench players remaining, Chatwood batted for Kintzler and doubled, as we have already seen. Want to see it again? Sure you do! [VIDEO]
Now, here’s where that additional Phillies run mattered. If it’s only 8-7 here, with runners on second and third with one out, you have the option of trying a squeeze to tie the game. But two runs down, you can’t play it that way. Addison Russell struck out and Caratini hit a fly to McCutchen in left, and that was the ballgame.
The Cubs left RISP in the fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth and you just can’t do that and expect to win. They were 2-for-10 with RISP on the afternoon.
Gonna give some credit to the Phillies here — that’s a good team, and a potential postseason matchup for the Cubs. Three of four would have been nice, but a split isn’t the end of the world. And when you have hitters as hot as this:
Anthony Rizzo last 27 games: .343/.440/.724, 10 HR, 27 RBI #Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 23, 2019
Kyle Schwarber last 25 games: .269/.412/.500, 4 HR, 11 RBI— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 23, 2019
... some big numbers are going to be put on the board. It’s up to the Cubs pitchers to stop the other guys, and they couldn’t do it this time.
But the weather was nice. Did I mention that?
The Reds come to town this weekend, opening a three-game series Friday afternoon. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and Anthony DeSclafani will go for the Reds. Game time is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage Friday will be via NBC Sports Chicago (also on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Reds market territories).