The Cubs had to settle for a series split against the Phillies. Jon Lester was not sharp and the Cubs were down from the third batter of the game. The Cubs were never able to level the score again, and yet this loss doesn't feel nearly as bad as quite a few from this year (I'm looking at you Monday). The Cubs offense snapped to life in the second half of the game to put up a touchdown. The tying run was put on base multiple times but they never could deliver the big blow. And yet this game went from just one of those days to a wild day at the ballpark. A strong lineup does that for a team and it is nearly as much fun to watch as painful as a terrible bullpen is to watch.
Andrew McCutchen is a really fun player. He might not be the superstar he once was, but he certainly looked like the old McCutchen the past four days. He started the game with a double and scored the first run of the game two batters later with Bryce Harper delivering a run scoring single. Rhys Hoskins drew a one out walk and Scott Kingery singled after J.T. Realmuto struck out to load the bases. Lester uncorked a wild pitch to allow Harper to score. An Odubel Herrera strikeout brought the frame to an end.
Lester pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, but any hopes of the veteran southpaw settling in were dashed in the third inning. Jean Segura doubled to start the inning. Harper grounds out to advance Segura to third. Hoskins hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the third run. Realmuto followed it up with a bomb to double the Phillies lead to 4. Lester gutted through one final inning, but it didn't do much to help the Cubs cause. Aaron Nola laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Willson Contreras' error allowed Rodriguez to reach third without an out recorded. McCutchen hit into a fielder's choice to drive in Rodriguez, and then scored on Segura's blast.
The Cubs were down a touchdown heading into the bottom of the fourth inning. It seemed like one of those forty games every team is destined to lose with the way Aaron Nola rolled through the first turn of the lineup. Jason Heyward was the only batter to reach in the first three innings and he did it via the first of four walks on the afternoon. The Cubs bats woke up the second time against the talented young righty though. Kyle Schwarber drew a walk to start the fourth. Javier Báez ripped a double and the pair scored on Anthony Rizzo's single. Contreras singled and Heyward walked again to load the bases with no outs. Albert Almora Jr. hit into a run scoring but rally killing double play for the Cubs third run of the frame. Daniel Descalso flew out to center to end the inning.
Rowan Wick was the first Cubs reliever and his Cubs debut wasn't particularly memorable. Hoskins singled to start the fifth. He reached third base on Scott Kingery's one double. Herrera hit a soft ground ball Wick was able to field for the out at first, but the Phillies got one run back right away. A Sean Rodriguez strike out ended the inning.
Some sanity returned to the ballgame temporarily with the only two scoreless innings from both teams starting with the Cubs bottom of the fifth. Aaron Nola worked around a one out walk to put another zero on the board. Mike Montgomery and Carl Edwards Jr. each pitched a scoreless inning to keep the Cubs in the game. The bats threatened to get back into the game against Nola in the sixth inning. Rizzo singled and advanced to second on Heyward's one out walk. Adam Morgan entered to face Heyward, but proved the LOOGY strategy successful by getting the right handed Almora out. Sean Dominguez entered to face Bryant and promptly walked him to load the bases. Once again Kapler was able to get a key out without the platoon advantage against the switch hitter Victor Caratini.
Pat Neshek has been a very effective reliever for quite a while, but he wasn't sharp this afternoon as the relentless lineup kept chipping away at the Phillies 8-3 lead. David Bote hit a solid single to start the inning and Kyle Schwarber hit a bomb to make it an 8-5 game. Rizzo hit his own home run after a Báez strike out. Kapler went to his lefty José Álvarez to face Heyward and his lefty once again walked the batter he was sent in to specifically get, but an Almora strike out meant that the Phillies still clung to a two run edge.
Kyle Ryan tried to keep the Phillies close in the eighth but the odd throwing lefty wasn't able to deliver. Herrera hit a solid single but Sean Rodriguez hit a groundball right to Báez, but Javy couldn't get the handle on the ball. Javy managed to make a brilliant flip to Addison Russell that initially was called out on the eventually pretty play. The call was overturned and Ryan once again was able to get a groundball at an infielder. A high throw from Caratini turned a double play into a fielder's choice. The red hot McCutchen hit a run scoring double off of Brandon Kintzler. The groundball righty managed to get five outs without another runner crossing the plate and give the Cubs a chance to win the game still.
The Cubs were able to get two runners on against Álvarez in the eighth inning. Kapler turned to closer Hector Neris for the final out of the eighth inning. Neris continued to finish the game and the Cubs lineup kept coming. Rizzo singled to start the inning and Contreras walked to put the tying run on bases. Neris was the first Phillies reliever to retire Heyward. That brought Tyler Chatwood to the plate since Maddon had exhausted his bench already. Chatwood crushed a double into left field to score Rizzo. Neris retired Russell with the second punchout in the inning. Caratini hit a pop fly that McCutchen rightfully grabbed for the ending.
Tyler Chatwood isn't having an unbelievable year by any stretch of the imagination. But I am not sure a player has gone from pariah to hero quite as dramatically as Chatwood has done in the past twelve months. The double is the latest chapter in Tyler Chatwood going from being that guy to