The story lines don't get much deeper for a late May game against an inter-division foe than the one tonight. Jake Arrieta made his return to Wrigley. The Cubs happened to line up the guy that replaced his spot in the rotation in Yu Darvish. The two dazzled for most of the evening with each notching a quality start in their outing. Early on it looked like Darvish would be the one to outshine the former Cub ace, but Jake managed to wiggle out of jam after jam. Darvish was bit on a big no swing call becoming a walk and then left the game after reaching the minimum marks of a quality start. The Cubs twice were within a strike of ending the inning, and twice the Phillies were able to come through in the clutch to steal a win on the Northside.
Yu Darvish threw five spectacular innings. Those might have been the best five innings he has thrown as a Cub. He pitched through those five innings and César Hernández was the only one to hit safely. Hernández delivered a pair of singles through those five innings, and Yu walked one other batter. Darvish struck out five and was on pace for a Maddux stepping off the mound after five innings clinging to the slimmest of margins.
Jake matched Yu pitch for pitch to start the game. Darvish was hitting 97 while Arrieta was working more in the low 90s at this point, but each faced the minimum after one frame. The Cubs bats sprung to life with Victor Caratini providing the first hit of the game leading off the bottom of the second. Jason Heyward followed that up with another single. Albert Almora Jr. advanced Caratini to third on a fielder's choice and ended up in scoring position on Daniel Descalso's walk. Addison Russell bounced the ball to a drawn in Hernández at second who fired to home for the second out. Yu then grounded out to Jake to end the threat.
The bottom of the third started with some role reversal as Kyle Schwarber hit a ball into an awkward part of shallow left center. The ball dropped between Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera for a leadoff triple. Kris Bryant couldn't drive in Schwarber, but Rizzo punched the ball through the shift to score the first run of the game. Arrieta recovered to retire the next two to send it to the fourth inning.
The Cubs threatened in the bottom half of the fourth. Daniel Descalso's strike out was sandwiched by singles from Almora and Russell. Darvish sacrificed the pair 90 feet, but it became moot when Schwarber punched out swinging for the second time. The Cubs weren't done yet against Jake though. Rizzo hit a one out double in the bottom of the ninth. Victor Caratini walked and a bouncing groundball single from Jason Heyward loaded the bases with one out. Almora hit a flyball to fairly deep right that Bryce Harper threw an absolute strike to nab Rizzo by plenty at the plate for the final out.
It was a frustrating result, but it didn't seem likely to matter with the way Darvish was throwing. Darvish walked McCutchen to start the inning. Jean Segura swapped spots with McCutchen on a fielder's choice. He made it to second on a stolen base in front of a Bryce Harper walk. A Rhys Hoskins pop out to Descalso meant just one more out was needed to finish six scoreless frames. J.T. Realmuto was able to bounce a ball just out of the range of Addison Russell to tie the game. That brought César Hernández to the plate once again and he once again killed the Cubs. Hernández hit a ball down the right field line that bounced off the padding of the wall past Heyward for a triple. A game the Cubs had outplayed their opposition all night had been flipped 3-1.
Jake Arrieta pitched a clean sixth inning before heading to the showers with a chance to earn yet another Wrigley Field W. Seranthony Domínguez helped the cause by pitching another 1-2-3 frame in the seventh. The Phillies had a chance to crack the game open against Mike Montgomery in the seventh inning. Phil Gosselin and Andrew McCutchen hit back to back one out singles. Jean Segura struck out and Monty got a ground out from Bryce Harper to keep the Phillies at 3. Monty would pitch a clean eighth inning to give the Cubs a chance.
Domínguez was sent back out in the eighth and the move immediately backfired with back to back walks to start the inning. Almora sacrificed the pair into scoring position to bring Daniel Descalso to the plate. Descalso was again able to split the right center gap for a triple. The relay throw bounced off of Descalso's foot as he slid into third and bounced into the stands. Descalso was awarded home and the Cubs now lead 4-3 heading into the ninth inning.
Steve Cishek and Javier Báez both were unavailable for this game and that was bad news for the Cubs in a lot of ways. Brad Brach was given the ninth inning instead. Maikel Franco double was sandwiched around two relatively easy outs for Brach. Andrew McCutchen was the Phillies final hope and with two strikes a checked swing was called no swing. The review sure looked as much like a swing as one can say anything is a swing given the clarity of the rule rivals that of the NFL catch rule. Instead Brach lost McCutchen and Jean Segura served the ball into right field to tie the game. Segura was thrown out by Heyward trying to stretch it into a double for some reason with two outs and Bryce Harper coming to bat.
Kyle Ryan took over in the tenth inning because the Cubs could only manage a two out single against Hector Neris. Ryan did his job in retiring Harper and then got Hoskins as well. Maddon continued to press his luck and allowed the lefty to face J.T. Realmuto. Willson Contreras newly inserted into the game called for a high fastball. Ryan went up there but the just over the belt fastball was deposited into the left center stands for the game winning blast. The Cubs finally retired César Hernández. The Cubs could again muster just a single in their tease rally as they drop a shoulda been game.
Jake Arrieta wasn't vintage Jake. Thankfully for the Cubs he was hardly Gibson 2.0, but Jake showed that John Wick trait that John talked about ahead of the WilcarJohn Wick trait that John talked about ahead of the Wildcard game. Arrieta continually escaped big jams to keep the Cubs to a single tally in six innings, and for at least tonight he was back.