After having a day off to put the stink of their walk-off loss to the Rangers behind them, the Phillies turned in an impressive overall effort Friday afternoon as they topped the Chicago Cubs 7-2. Wrigley Field was the scene, as the Cubs were celebrating their 100th home opener on a cold, blustery Chicago day. The Phillies sent Roberto Hernandez aka Fausto Carmona aka ‘Robbie Fausto’ to the hill to square off with Cubs starter, lefty Travis Wood. The Phillies starter was a bit of a mixed bag this spring, and with the winds blowing out at Wrigley, he would have the elements working against him in his first start for Philadelphia.
Chicago tallied runs in the 2nd and 3rd innings. Cubs catcher Welington Castillo demolished a home run to left that, with the wind, looks as if it could have traveled 700 feet. Starlin Castro made it 2-0 when Chase Utley was unable to handle a sharp single to the edge of the infield that gave Darwin Barney enough time to score from second. For the most part, however, Hernandez was clean and efficient in his outing as he prevented further damage while the Phillies bats woke up.
Philadelphia got one back in the top of the 4th when Domonic Brown’s sharp grounder up the middle ate up Castro and trickled into the outfield. Marlon Byrd scored from third to make the score 2-1. In the top of the 5th, the Phillies took over the lead on a one-out, two-run home run to right that scored Carlos Ruiz. Utley’s first homer of the year, off a left-handed pitcher, seemed to knock Wood off of his rhythm as the Cubs starter had been effective to that point.
Manager Ryne Sandberg pulled Hernandez after he recorded one out in the 6th inning and 73 pitches. The starter’s final line read as such: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB, and 5 K. Jake Diekman finished off the inning in his third appearance of the season. Chase Utley drove in his third run of the game in the 7th, plating Ben Revere to increase the lead to 4-2. Justin De Fratus pitched a perfect 7th, and pinch hitter John Mayberry Jr. delivered the game’s definitive blow in the top of the 8th. On a 2-2 pitch with two outs and a runner on first, Mayberry rocketed a home run to left to make the score 6-2. Mayberry now has four RBI in a pinch-hitting role and has delivered big hits in both of the Phillies wins this season.
Antonio Bastardo was able to work around a couple of walks to get through the 8th inning. Brown knocked in another run in the top of the 9th with his 3rd hit of the afternoon. The RBI double scored Ryan Howard and the Phillies took a 7-2 lead. The combination of Mario Hollands and Jeff Manship pitched a perfect 9th to give the Phillies a worry-free win to get back to .500.
Other than the left side of the infield (Jayson Nix and Cody Asche went a combined 0-9), the Phillies put together a complete effort. Ben Revere had three hits and scored a run. Carlos Ruiz, still batting out of the two hole, reached base three times via a hit and a pair of walks. Howard had a base hit and a walk to go with just one punchout. Another active day for Sandberg resulted in a nip-and-tuck win for the Phillies as he continues to learn more about the pieces that figure to make up the team’s ‘regulars’ as the season continues.
Cliff Lee (0-0) looks to bounce back from his opening day struggles as he faces off with Cubs ace Jeff Samardzija (1-0). Jimmy Rollins, who should arrive in Chicago Friday evening, will return to the lineup to spare us from watching any more Jayson Nix starts. Though their record (2-2) may not be overly impressive, I must admit the Phillies have been a pleasant surprise to this point in the early season. Hopefully the Cubs keep remembering that they’re the Cubs and the Phils can get back over .500.