Before today, the last time the Cubs swept the Phillies in Philadelphia the winning pitchers were Tim Worrell, Felix Heredia and Steve Rain, and yes, you probably don’t remember at least two of those guys. That was 22 years ago, July 25-27, 2000, and those Cubs weren’t a very good team either, eventually losing 97 games.
This year’s Cubs have a chance to avoid that fate, and they played quite well in completing their three-game sweep over the Phillies, though not until a bit of bad play made their 4-3 win Sunday afternoon a bit closer than it should have been.
Many of you likely didn’t see this game on Peacock (and I’m going to post a separate article about the broadcast after this recap), so I’m going to show you quite a few highlights.
After a pair of scoreless innings, the Cubs broke through on the board with this solo homer by Yan Gomes leading off the third [VIDEO].
That was especially good to see considering that Gomes, entering today’s action, had been hitting .171/.188/.207 (14-for-82) in 24 games since June 14.
One out after the homer, Nelson Velázquez walked and Christopher Morel doubled him in [VIDEO].
The Cubs extended the lead in the fourth, again courtesy of Gomes, who homered with one out [VIDEO].
This was Gomes’ first multi-homer game as a Cub and sixth of his career. After David Bote struck out, Velázquez sent a ball into the seats [VIDEO].
So. It’s 4-0 heading to the fifth and Drew Smyly is dealing. He retired the first 14 Phillies before Bryson Stott doubled with two out in the fifth. Stott scored on a single by Alec Bohm to make it 4-1.
Smyly should have made it out of the sixth inning with no further runs off him but during that frame, the Cubs forgot how to play defense. A popup by Garrett Stubbs fell untouched by David Bote, who lost it in the sun. One out later, Gomes dropped a foul popup by Kyle Schwarber. Schwarber eventually grounded out, which advanced Stubbs to third, where he scored on a single to left by Rhys Hoskins — no guarantee Stubbs scores if not for the base advance.
So Smyly winds up with a strong outing, six innings, four hits, two runs (one earned), no walks, four strikeouts. The last couple of outings from Smyly actually make it more likely he’ll be traded, I’d think.
But that inning messed up the sequencing; it probably should have been a 1-2-3 inning for Smyly, instead five Phillies batted in the inning.
Meanwhile, the Cubs offense shut down, with only three baserunners after the fourth inning and only two of them got past first base. So it would be up to the Cubs bullpen to shut things down.
Scott Effross gave up a pair of hits in the seventh, but in between, he got Stott to hit into a double play, so no runs scored.
Chris Martin was not so fortunate. On Martin’s third pitch of the eighth, Stubbs homered deep into right field [VIDEO].
So it would be up to David Robertson to preserve a one-run lead. You’d better believe scouts were sitting in the 100-degree heat at CBP taking notes. With one out, Robertson walked Stott and allowed a single to Bohm. But then Didi Gregorius lined to left and Robertson finished it off by striking out Stubbs [VIDEO].
This team played solid baseball in every way this weekend (except for those defensive lapses in the sixth inning of this one). This is the sort of baseball I thought this team could play, and the Phillies are a decent enough team, still in the wild card hunt.
It was also the 60th time in 95 games that the Cubs scored first. They are 30-30 in those games. That has to improve; when you take an early lead, you should keep it. The win also improved the Cubs’ record in one-run games to 12-18. Which is bad, but they have won four of their last seven one-run decisions.
As noted, it was the first sweep by the Cubs in Philadelphia since before CBP was built — that one, in 2000, was on the artificial turf of Veterans Stadium. It was the Cubs’ sweep of the Phillies at all since May 27-29, 2016 at Wrigley Field, their first sweep of any kind since they swept the Pirates in a four-game set at Wrigley September 2-5, 2021 and their first sweep on the road since May 25-27, 2021, also against the Pirates.
Who, coincidentally, they will play in a two-game set at Wrigley Field beginning Monday evening. Keegan Thompson will get the start for the Cubs and JT Brubaker will go for the Pirates. Game time Monday is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage returns to Marquee Sports Network.