Series Recap- Cubs fight through the Phillies to take three of four

Game 1 (Monday May 1st): Phillies 10 — Cubs 2

The opener of the four game set at Wrigley started bad, and ended ugly. After a lengthy rain delay, the few brave souls that withstood the downpour weren’t exactly treated to a masterpiece of a game. I think Brett Anderson’s line for the Cubs tells the whole story of this one: 1.1 IP, 7 ER. On a brisk night at Wrigley, the Phillies were able to muster three long balls, courtesy of: Tommy Joseph, Michael Saunders, and Freddy Galvis.

The Cubs never really threatened after the Phillies jumped out to a 7–0 lead after 2. They totaled only four hits on the night with the only extra base hit a Javy Baez solo shot in the 5th off of Vince Velazquez. Velazquez gave up only one run in 5 innings while the bullpen took care of the rest tossing a combined four innings of shutout ball to take the opener.

Anderson’s struggles of late have to be cause for concern for a team that is not known for its rotational depth. Although Mike Montgomery has to be licking his chops as he waits in the wings for his chance in the #5 role.

Game 2 (Tuesday May 2nd): Cubs 8 — Phillies 3

After taking game 1 of the series on Monday night, the Phillies were able to take advantage of the Cubs pitching staff’s 1st inning struggles. Aaron Altherr, the second batter of the game, homered off of Jon Lester and the Phils looked to be off and running for a second straight night. Fortunately for the Cubs, their best players step up when the going gets tough. And that was shown in full on Tuesday night.

It began with a quick response from Kris Bryant. The reigning NL MVP deposited an offering from surging Jeremy Hellickson into the left field bleachers to tie the game. From that point on, the Cubs would not trail the rest of the game.

Javy Baez got his career night started in the 3rd with a solo shot of his own. He would follow that up with a single and a triple, before barely missing out on the cycle. In the 8th, needing a double for history, Baez blooped a hit into right. Any other time this would be a simple single, but Javy knew what was at stake. The human highlight reel bolted out of the batters box and reached first before the ball had landed. But after taking a quick and sharp turn, slowly retreated back to first. The star second baseman received a standing ovation from the Wrigley faithful, acknowledging his flirtation with history.

Back to the game. Immediately after Baez’s home run, Tommy Joseph responded with a game tying double in the 4th to drive in Michael Saunders. However, the tie wouldn’t last for long, thanks to the world’s strongest leadoff man Kyle Schwarber. With two on and two out, Schwarber did what he does best, mash with runners on. He took a pitch that was low and in and hit a frozen rope into the right field bleachers sending the crowd its feet. The blast gave the Cubs a three run advantage that they would not relinquish.

Zobrist would go on to double home Bryant later in the inning, while in the 5th, Baez’s double plated two to put the Cubs up 8–3. After that point, and two and a half hours of play through 5, the game sped along as the Cubs cruised to a victory to even up the series.

Game 3 (Wednesday May 3rd): Cubs 5 — Phillies 4

Game three of the set started off much like the first two, with the Philadelphia Phillies scoring in the first. This time, it was courtesy of Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera RBI base knocks to put the fighting Phil’s up 2–0 before the Cubs even stepped to the plate. It was yet another shaky start from Jake Arrieta, although he settled down as in previous outings to get through 5 innings in this contest.

Fortunately, it appears to be second nature for this ball club to come from behind at this point. The Cubs began to chip away after an Arrieta fielder’s choice plated Hayward to cut the lead in half 2–1 after 2. However, after an RBI sac fly in the 4th courtesy of Freddy Galvis, the lead was back to two.

The big inning for Chicago in this one was the 6th. Rizzo and Zobrist had both singled in the inning but there was two outs when Jason Hayward stepped up to the plate looking to cut into the lead. He was able to do so by going with a pitch away to left field to score Rizzo. After a wild pitch put runners at second and third it came down to Wilson Contreras to come through in the clutch.

And Big Willy did not let down, hammering a double to put the Cubs in front for the first time on the night. The very next batter, Matt Szczur, hit a hard grounder up the middle. However, shortstop Freddy Galvis made a diving stop to keep it in the infield. Contreras never stopped running though as Galvis faked a throw to third as the Cubs catcher barreled home from second on an infield single to give the Cubs an invaluable insurance run.

The Phillies would score in the 8th off of Hector Rondon but Wade Davis came on to shut the door for his seventh save in as many opportunities while continuing his scoreless steak as a Cub as the home team held on to a 5–4 victory.

Game 4 (Thursday May 4th): Cubs 5 — Phillies 4

Looking for the series win, the Cubs handed the ball over to veteran John Lackey. Lackey was the first Cub in the series to hold the Phillies scoreless in the opening frame. This time around, it was the Cubs turn to jump on top early. After RBI doubles from Addison Russell and Matt Szczur in each of the first two innings respectively, the Cubs held a 2–0 advantage in the early stages of this one. However, John Lackey continued his mediocre start to the year, giving up three runs over five frames to push his ERA to an unenviable 5.14 after his first six starts, which isn’t exactly a small sample size at this point.

Having just surrendered the lead in the 5th, Miguel Montero made sure it would not stay that way. Miggy knotted the game up at 3 with a sac fly to drive in John Jay. Jay continued his brilliant start to 2017 with a 2–4 effort including a walk. Kris Bryant also had himself a day at the plate due to some grinding at-bats and some good fortune. Bryant went 4–5 with a walk and a run despite never unloading on one in the finale.

Surprisingly, it was Carl Edwards Jr. who was the next to crack. The lanky righty gave up his first run of the year on a 419 ft towering shot from catcher Cameron Rupp. Luckily, the Cubs had their own clutch catcher to rely on. Miguel Montero is starting to make a habit of coming up big in critical situations and Thursday afternoon was no different. The stocky lefty batter deposited an 0–1 fastball in the 8th from Joaquin Benoit into the basket in center to tie it back up at 4.

From there it was a series of missed chances until a fatal mistake. The Phillies and Cubs each stranded the bases loaded with one out over the next few innings as it shifted to extras. The Phillies went strikeout, pop out to end their threat, while Wilson Contreras grounded into a double pay against a drawn in infield to end the Cubs.

It wasn’t until the 13th inning in this one that we saw a victor emerge. After an Albert Almora leadoff double, Zobrist was intentionally walked following a Baez groundout. With one out and two on Szczur walked to the plate. The utility righty hit a sharp ground ball to second base. Cesar Hernandez fielded it cleanly and quickly fired the ball over to Galvis who was looking to turn an impressive double play. However, Galvis sped up his motion too quickly as he fired the ball wide of first baseman Tommy Joseph. A hustling Albert Almora easily scored on the throwing error and the Cubs found an unlikely way to take the series against the Phillies.

It wasn’t always pretty, but it’s hard to argue with taking three of four against a solid club like Philadelphia. The starters continued to struggle while the bullpen picked up the slack as the Cubs have won the majority of their close games recently. Sitting at 16–12 and 1.5 games up on the Brewers in the Central, the Cubs will head into a primetime matchup with the Evil Empire New York Yankees for a weekend affair at Wrigley.

Jason Schwartz is the Editor in Chief of BulletinBoard, a Chicago Bulls blog. Only his love for the Cubs would dare him to write elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter here.