The Chicago Cubs have rediscovered their offense in Philadelphia.
Starting pitching, too.
The Cubs scored 21 runs in the first two games and now look for a three-game sweep when they battle the host Phillies on Sunday afternoon.
After a 15-2 victory on Friday, the Cubs scored five times in the 10th inning for a 6-2 win on Saturday.
Suddenly, Chicago is searching for its fourth consecutive victory. Before the All-Star break, the Cubs salvaged a win over the New York Mets.
Nico Hoerner hit a solo home run and Christopher Morel added two hits and an RBI on Saturday. All-Star Willson Contreras, who could potentially be dealt by the Aug. 2 trade deadline, also contributed an RBI double.
Manager David Ross was ejected in the 10th inning for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire CB Bucknor, and the Cubs responded with five runs and another win. It was Ross’ fifth ejection this season.
Through the first two games in this series, Chicago has also received stellar starting pitching.
“Success comes, in my mind, with good starting pitching,” Ross said. “If you establish yourself, you’re in every ballgame every single night. You find a way to win offensively, but starting pitching — the good teams hold it down from jump street consistently.”
Drew Smyly (2-5, 4.22 ERA) looks to continue the Cubs’ string of impressive starting pitching performances. Smyly is 0-0 with a 4.40 ERA in four career games (three starts) against the Phillies.
The Phillies finished the All-Star break with a three-game series sweep on the road against the Miami Marlins.
Now they’ll look to win the series finale against the Cubs to at least salvage one game in the first half of their six-game homestand.
Saturday’s loss was sloppy in many ways, as Philadelphia struggled to execute defensively and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The Phillies managed only six hits, with no player recording multiple hits.
“We’ve got to get the bats going for sure,” interim manager Rob Thomson said. “A little bit of a missed opportunity the first couple games here.”
The top three hitters — Kyle Schwarber, Rhys Hoskins and Nick Castellanos — combined to go 0-for-11 with five strikeouts. Castellanos, a high-priced free agent acquisition, has struggled offensively for much of the season and will look to break out of a 5-for-28 (.179) skid on Sunday.
“When you’re not swinging the bat, guys tend to want to do too much,” Thomson said. “We’ve got to relax.”
Following the game, a frustrated Castellanos objected to a line of questioning from a reporter about hearing boos from the fans in the 10th inning. A Phillies employee then ended the interview.
With Zach Eflin sidelined with a sore knee, Thomson shook up the starting rotation and inserted Bailey Falter for Sunday’s game.
Falter (0-2, 4.82) hasn’t pitched since July 7 against the Washington Nationals. Falter is 0-0 with a 12.27 ERA in three career appearances against the Cubs. All three came last season, and Falter gave up six hits and five runs in 3 2/3 combined innings.
–Field Level Media