Cubs record: 40-17, (1st NL Central, 8.5 games up)
W: Jerad Eickhoff
L: Kyle Hendricks
S: Jeanmar Gomez (19)
MVP: Jerad Eickhoff
The Phillies got the best of the Cubs in an early pitcher’s duel at Citizen’s Bank Park. The Phillies struck first in the 1st as a Kris Bryant misplay led to a double by Freddy Galvis, who scored on a Maikel Franco single. The damage would have been worse if not for a stellar play by Addison Russell, who dove into shallow left field to make the first out. Kyle Hendricks settled down until the 4th when he gave up a solo home run to Ryan Howard. After a clean 5th inning, his day was done.
The Cubs mustered a minor rally in the top of the 5th when Ben Zobrist led off the inning with a walk and Tommy La Stella singled to right, but Miguel Montero hit into a first-pitch double play, plating the first Cubs run, but ending their threat.
Adam Warren got through the 6th inning but gave up a single to Carlos Ruiz in the bottom of the 7th, and Chooch ended up scoring on an Oduble Herrera single off of Clayton Richard.
The Cubs finally made some noise when Hector Neris relieved Eickhoff in the top of the 8th. Montero reached on an error and Russell and Javy Baez singled to load the bases with no outs. The Phillies closer, and NL saves leader, Jeanmar Gomez came in for the two-inning save and gave up a Dexter Fowler sac-fly to left, which scored Szczur (running for Montero). Then Jason Heyward then hit into an inning-ending double-play.
In the top of the 9th, the Cubs had a chance with Zobrist on third and La Stella on first with two outs, but David Ross grounded out to end the game.
Kyle Hendricks may have taken the loss, but he still pitched a solid game despite going only five innings. Allowing two runs on four hits and two walks this season would have been enough almost every other night as the Cubs have scored fewer than two runs only six times this season. But it wasn’t enough tonight and the bullpen couldn’t keep the Phillies from adding on. When a “bad” outing looks like tonight, you can’t ask for much more.
Also: welcome to The Show, Albert Almora! Called up after Jorge Soler who was placed on the DL earlier today with a hamstring injury, Almora made his major league debut — a pinch-hit groundout for Hendricks. It will be exciting to see him get some time in the field.
Kris Bryant misplayed a ball in left field and it ended up costing the Cubs the game. Bryant appeared to misread it or lose it in the sun, but the mistake led to a Phillies run, which was the difference. Bryant’s been good overall when he’s played left, it just stings to see a mistake like this start the game off on a sour note.
The Cubs’ bats just couldn’t figure out Eickhoff. With a 3.94 ERA and 3.94 FIP coming into the game, allowing two hits and two walks to a team on a historic pace is quite the accomplishment. Hats off to him, he pitched a great game. The Cubs will be alright.
John Lackey faces off against Vince Velasquez as the Cubs try to take the series tomorrow in a 12:05 CST start. Velasquez had a 1.44 ERA through his first five starts and 31.1 innings, but has since been bitten by the regression bug and hasn’t lasted longer than five innings in his last three starts. He has been prone to high pitch counts, which is something the Cubs will look to take advantage of. Lackey has a 1.74 ERA in his last three starts and is rolling after a rough start to the season. The team is off on Thursday and will fly to Atlanta for a three-game series after this one.