After outscoring the Cubs 9-2 in the first two games of the series, the Phillies were outscored 8-3 on Sunday afternoon as they failed to sweep the Cubs in Chicago for the first time since 2009.
Burnett Struggles Early
-AJ Burnett struggled early in this ball game. Burnett faced eight batters in the first inning, walking three of them, and gave up all four of his earned runs here. Burnett struggled controlling his pitches as he walked six batters. However, he did manage to settle down after the first inning and went on to pitch 4 2/3 more innings without giving up any earned runs. Burnett finished the game with 5 2/3 innings pitched, striking out three, and giving up five hits. Burnett was charged with eight total runs, four earned, and four unearned after Ben Revere’s error in the sixth inning.
-Brad Lincoln made his Phillies debut in the sixth inning by recording the final out. Lincoln gave up a single to Anthony Rizzo which lead to a run, before getting Nate Schierholtz to fly out to end the inning. It is a bit curious as to why manager Ryne Sandberg waited until the sixth game of the season to debut Lincoln. However, he did look solid in his brief appearance as he threw eight of his twelve pitches for strikes. It will be interesting to see where Sandberg utilizes Lincoln moving forward.
-Right-hander Jeff Manship continued to look good early on in the season as he pitched the final two innings for the Phillies giving up no hits, one walk, zero runs, and striking out two.
Ryne Sandberg Misses First Challenge
-Ryne Sandberg made his first challenge of the year in the top of the fifth inning after Utley was ruled out on a close play at first base. In my eyes, Utley appeared to reach first base just as the ball was hitting the glove of Cub’s first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Sandberg went out to talk to first base umpire CB Bucknor, before getting confirmation from Larry Bowa in the dugout to challenge. The call on the field stood, however, as the video replay evidence was not strong enough to overturn the original call. Utley was credited with a RBI on the play as Ben Revere scored.
-The Phillies offense missed a great opportunity in the fourth inning when they had bases loaded and only one out. Cody Asche grounded into a fielder’s choice to Cubs pitcher Carlos Villanueva who threw to home plate to record the second out. AJ Burnett then weakly flied out to center field. While it was still early in the game, this may have been a situation where Sandberg should have thought about pinch-hitting for AJ Burnett. With the Phillies down 4-0 and the bases loaded this was an opportunity for them to get back in the ball game. Sandberg has already shown this year he is not afraid to make some bold moves, and Burnett only went on to pitch another 1 2/3 innings.
-The Phillies would get one more bases-loaded opportunity in the ninth inning. Asche scored on a Rollins fielder’s choice, and Revere crossed home plate after a wild pitch by Cub’s relief pitcher Pedro Strop. However, it was too little too late as Ryan Howard’s fly out to center ended the threat and the game.
-Chase Utley continued his torrid start to the season by getting on base three more times in this contest and raising his OBP to .536. This included being hit by a pitch in the first inning in typical Utley fashion. You may refer to the above video for what has become a staple in his career. Remarkably, that was the 157th time that Utley has been hit by a pitch in his career.