Remember the days of “You go, we go” with Dexter Fowler leading off for the Cubs?
The Cubs have done some of that this year with Nico Hoerner in the leadoff spot, and Friday night’s game showed how much the team missed Nico while he was out with a minor hamstring injury. Nico went 3-for-6 and drove in four runs, helping lead the ballclub to a 10-1 rout of the Phillies. The win snapped a five-game losing streak and it was the team’s biggest margin of victory since a 13-0 blowout of the Dodgers back on April 21.
A bit of sketchy fielding led to a Phillies run in the first inning. A ball bounced off Nick Madrigal’s glove that could have been called an error; instead it went for a double for Bryce Harper that put Bryson Stott on third. A sac fly scored Stott to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead.
But that was it for Phillies scoring!
The Cubs must have used that as encouragement, because they got the bats rolling in the top of the second. Singles by Trey Mancini and Yan Gomes and a walk by Christopher Morel loaded the bases with nobody out.
Madrigal gave the Cubs the lead [VIDEO].
Morel stopped at third, but both he and Madrigal scored on this double by Hoerner [VIDEO].
That made it 4-1, with still nobody out, but that was it for the Cubs in the second.
Meanwhile, after the first inning Marcus Stroman shut the Phillies down, helped in part by good defense like this sliding catch by Ian Happ in the third [VIDEO].
The Cubs put the game in blowout status in the fifth — off former Cub Erich Uelmen, who went to the Phillies for the famous “cash considerations” this past January.
Seiya Suzuki led off with a double and Miles Mastrobuoni walked. One out later, the runners moved up on uncontested stolen bases and Suzuki scored on this sac fly by Yan Gomes [VIDEO].
Mastrobuoni took third, where he scored on this ball off Trea Turner’s glove [VIDEO].
Now, there is where you see “hometown scoring.” That was very similar to Madrigal’s misplay in the first. But the Madrigal play was ruled a hit, helping out Harper’s BA, while Turner’s was ruled an error, which wound up making three of the four runs off Uelmen unearned.
Anyway. After that Madrigal walked and both he and Morel scored on another double by Hoerner that made it 8-1 [VIDEO].
Stroman had an excellent outing apart from the first inning. Overall he allowed just the one run — and just one hit after the first inning — and struck out four. Here’s the breakdown of Stroman’s start [VIDEO].
Even though he had thrown 88 pitches, I thought maybe David Ross should have let Stroman throw the seventh, given the Cubs’ bullpen woes as of late. But Julian Merryweather (retired all six batters he faced, two by strikeout) and Nick Burdi (scoreless ninth) finished off the Phillies without incident. I have been critical of Merryweather in the past but his recent outings have been quite good. Last 12 appearances: 1.50 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 15 strikeouts in 12 innings.
One of the outs recorded by Burdi in the ninth was on a fastball that registered over 100 miles per hour:
Nick Burdi just struck out Kyle Schwarber with a 100.6 mph heater -- the fastest pitch to date of the Cubs' season. pic.twitter.com/gR0RckHt29— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 20, 2023
Confirmed that’s the fastest pitch by any Cub since the 2016 World Series:
Confirmed: Burdi’s pitch was fastest by a Cubs arm since Chapman in Game 7 in 2016: https://t.co/2usb7rHl3u https://t.co/HQhrxMwGIW— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 20, 2023
Rewinding a bit to the top of the ninth, Morel had wrapped up the scoring with this two-run homer in the ninth [VIDEO].
That’s nine games played for Morel and six home runs. That’s already tied for third on the team with Gomes, and in 38 games combined between Iowa and the Cubs, Morel has homered 17 times. His MLB slugging percentage stands at .872. Also:
Christopher Morel has 6 homers in his first 9 games this season with the Cubs. The last Cubs player to have that many shots in his first 9 games of a season?— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 20, 2023
Gabby Hartnett (also 6) in 1925.
Here’s the final out of the game, recorded by Burdi [VIDEO].
This was a satisfying full-squad victory, with multiple contributions by several players. And it could have been more than 10 runs — the Cubs left 11 runners on base! Not complaining about that with a 10-run outburst, just pointing out how many runners the Cubs had (12 hits, seven walks, one hit batter, one man reaching on an error).
Three of the other four teams (Cardinals, Brewers, Reds) lost Friday night, so the Cubs moved to within four games of first place in what appears to be a pretty evenly-matched N.L. Central.
Last note: The Cubs have now won seven straight games against the Phillies. That’s the longest such streak since they won their last six games against them in 1995 and the first meeting in 1996.
The Cubs will go for two in a row over the Phillies Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. Jameson Taillon, still trying to get back to his previous level of performance, will start for the Cubs and Aaron Nola will go for the Phillies. Game time is 3:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.