The Philadelphia Phillies (29-21) earned one of their more stressful wins of the 2019 season on Thursday afternoon, defeating the Chicago Cubs (29-19) by a final score of 9-7 at Wrigley Field.
Then suddenly, Nola found himself in a heap of trouble. The bullpen arms that came to relieve him didn’t fare any better. In the end, the Phils survived, earning a series split on the road against a very good Chicago team.
In order to turn their fortunes around against Lester, who was aiming to become the first pitcher since the beginning of the expansion era to earn a 9-0 record against the Phillies, they needed to get to him early. Lead-off hitter Andrew McCutchen saw to it by drilling a double into left field off a high and inside fastball.
After a fly ball from Jean Segura that moved McCutchen from second to third base, Bryce Harper caught a low curveball and looped it into right-center field for the game’s first run. Harper came around to score four batters later after a first-pitch cutter to Odubel Herrera ran wild, darting too far off to the left of Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.
With Aaron Nola cruising through two hitless frames, the Phillies went back on offense in the third inning. Segura led off with a double to left and came in to score thanks to a Rhys Hoskins sacrifice fly.
With two outs and nobody on, J.T. Realmuto got a hold of a middle-in cutter. He sent the ball flying at an exit velocity of 111 mph out over the left field stands and into the intersection of Kenmore and Waveland Avenue fully outside of the ballpark. The projected 456-foot home run was the longest of Realmuto’s career:
J.T. GOES WAAAAY OUT! pic.twitter.com/gUSOUXvcoZ
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) May 23, 2019
The Phillies were able to add on to their already comfortable lead in the 4th inning, aided greatly by the Cubs defenders, who seemed to forget how to throw to first base. With a runner on and one out, Nola laid down a beautiful bunt in front of home plate. Contreras picked up the ball and threw a scorcher to first baseman Anthony Rizzo that got away.
The line up then turned over, and McCutchen hit himself into a sure double play. Successfully getting the force out at second, Daniel Descalso’s throw to first was too wide for Rizzo. Sean Rodriguez scored from third and it was 5-0. Segura then made the Cubs pay for their defensive mistakes by driving a changeup that caught too much of the plate halfway up the left-center bleachers to extend the Phillies early lead to 7-0:
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) May 23, 2019
The bottom of that 4th inning did not go as smoothly for Nola as the previous three. He began the inning by walking former 2014 first round pick Kyle Schwarber and then surrendering a double to Javier Baez. That Baez two-bagger was the Cubs first hit of the game.
Rizzo then singled to center, driving in Schwarber. Three batters later, Nola found himself with the bases loaded, nobody out, and a four-run lead with Wednesday’s grand slam hero, Albert Almora, at the plate. Almora promptly grounded into a double play, scoring a run. But more importantly it gifted Nola a way out of the inning. The inning was over a batter later with Descalso flying out to Herrera in center field.
The Phillies tacked on another run in the top of the 5th inning. Hoskins led off the inning with a single. After a Realmuto flyout, Scott Kingery, who replaced birthday boy Cesar Hernandez at second base in the starting lineup, looped one to right that stayed fair and bounced into the seats for a ground rule double. Herrera followed up with a soft ground ball to the right side to score Hoskins from third, and it was an 8-3 ballgame.
The bullpen took over for Nola in the 6th as Phillies manager Gabe Kapler opted for a left-hander with Jason Heyward coming to the plate. Adam Morgan came in to face two batters, and then Seranthony Dominguez navigated the Phils out the inning when Rodriguez made a nice play, then slid to tag out Heyward at third. The play was challenged by Cubs manager Joe Maddon, but the call was upheld.
The Cubs made it a ballgame again in the 7th. Pat Neshek surrendered home runs to both Schwarber and Rizzo that cut the lead down to two. After striking out Contreras, a double-switch was made, sending Kingery to the bench. Hernandez came in to play second and slot into the ninth batting position, and Jose Alvarez went to the mound. Alvarez walked Heyward and struck out Almora, finally ending a particularly stressful inning for the Phils pen:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 23, 2019
The Cubs offensive attack resumed in the 8th inning. With two runners on, two outs, and Baez up, Hector Neris came in to attempt a four-out save. He gave up a sharp fly ball that at first looked like it was on its way out, but instead found its way into McCutchen’s glove for the final out.
As if there couldn’t be any more drama, Neris found himself with two runners on base and down 3-0 in the count to Heyward, who had walked four times already. But Neris fought back, finally getting Heyward swinging at a pitch way out of the zone.
With two outs and the Cubs out of bench players, Maddon turned to pitcher Tyler Chatwood to pinch-hit. And as you might imagine in this wild affair, Chatwood managed to drive a double over McCutchen’s head in left field to cut the Phillies lead down to just 9-7. He was standing on second as the tying run when Victor Caratini flied out to left to finally end the game. Have a drink tonight Phillies fans. You’ve earned it.
Shibe Vintage Sports Starting Pitching Performance
Aaron Nola surely looked like he was ready to dominate a tough Cubs lineup. To start off, Nola threw first pitch strikes to the first six batters and carried a no-hitter into the 4th inning. He even picked-off his only baserunner to end the third inning.
Things began to unravel for Nola in that 4th, however. He started falling behind more and more hitters and at one point, found himself in danger of cutting his lead all the way down to a single run.
His line score today may indicate an average performance, but his ability to cruise through the first three and get out of the fourth only giving up only three runs is what makes today’s outing a very impressive one. It definitely wasn’t his best outing, but his best wasn’t needed on a day that the Phillies offensive attack delivered in support of him.
Phillies Nuggets Player of the Game: Jean Segura
Boy are we lucky to have Segura signed at a very reasonable price through 2022. He came into today’s game with a 13-game hitting streak and extended it to 14 with a pair of extra-base hits, including a towering two run homer that gave the Phillies a 7-0 lead.
Considering the Phillies struggled over the past couple of games with executing at the plate at the right times, this performance from Segura was much needed. He is now batting .323 with a .370 on-base percentage and a .491 slugging percentage on the season.
- May 24th @ Milwaukee Brewers, Miller Park
- 8:10 P.M. ET
- NBC Sports Philadelphia
- Sportsradio 94 WIP
MORE FROM PHILLIES NATION:
- Just like that, Aaron Altherr is joining the New York Mets
- Gabe Kapler on Phillies everyday center fielder: ‘Right now, we don’t have one’
- Vince Velasquez thinks that closing would “be cool” in the future
- Dylan Cozens’ career with the Phillies in jeopardy following foot surgery
- Hector Neris has been born again hard as the Phillies closer