Rally falls short as Cubs fall to Phillies
Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports

Rally falls short as Cubs fall to Phillies

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - When the season got underway and the Chicago Cubs (39-47) got off to that 17-9 start, no one expected them to be in last place at any point this season. Well, here we are on July second, and the Cubs have had the worst record in the NL over the past 60 games as they have gone just 22-38 to put them in last place. No one wants to waive the White flag, but it may be time to wave it, as the Cubs are not a very good team.

Things might even get worse before they get better when you look at the Cubs upcoming schedule as they kicked off a six-game homestand with the NL-Best Philadelphia Phillies (56-29) at Wrigley Field. Even with guys like JT Realmuto, Kyle Schwarber, and Bryce Harper on the injured list, this is a very dangerous Phillies team that the Cubs can only dream about having.

With a rookie pitcher in Michael Mercardo making his ML debut, it was the Trea Turner show as he connected for a pair of homers and drove in four as the Phillies survived a late Cubs rally for the 6-4 win. Expected to be the Phillies No. 5 starter for the next few weeks, Mercado left quite an impression against the Cubs as he gave the Phillies five brilliant innings of one-run, two-hit baseball. In fact, the Cubs had just two hits in the game entering the ninth inning as Phillies pitching retired 16-straight Cubs at one point.

The same can't be said about Hayden Wesneski, who was pushed back into the rotation after Javier Assad hit the IL late last week. With the Cubs still trying to figure out what role fits him best, Wesneski has stated he feels more comfortable as a starter, but he needs to improve for that to continue. The right handed did strike out seven Phillies across five innings, but he also gave up five runs on five hits.

Two of those hits came on a pair of homers, as he has now allowed 10 homers in his last 19 innings. Had it not been for a great catch by Nicholas Castellanos to rob Cody Bellinger of an RBI double in the first inning, it would have been the Cubs striking first, but instead, the Phillies managed to grab an early lead as Garrett Stubbs went the opposite way for a two-run double to put the Phillies on top for good 2-0 in the second.

It's those types of situational hitting moments that have lacked the Cubs all season, as good teams find a way to score runs when they need to. The Phillies extended their lead to 3-0 in the top of the third as Turner got into the first of his two homers on the night and nearly doubled his entire homer output heading into the game.

Even though the Cubs offense looked lifeless again early on, the wind was howling at close to 25 MPH, and when that happens, no lead is safe. Take the third inning, for instance, as Tomas Nido led things off before coming around on a Bellinger double to make things 3-1.

At that moment, things felt as if they would turn in favor of the Cubs, but the Bellinger double was the last hit the Cubs would have until the ninth, as their next 16 hitters were retired.

That put even more pressure on Wesneski and the rest of the Cubs staff to pitch perfectly. After Bryson Stott opened the fifth with a single, Turner came through again with another massive shot. His second homer of the night gave the Phillies a 5-1 lead. Turner wasn't finished tormenting the Cubs pitching; he added an RBI single off Colten Brewer in the seventh for his fourth RBI, and the Phillies opened up a 6-1 lead.

Still holding that lead and with the Cubs down to their final three outs, it was up to Jose Ruiz to finish things off. To the Cubs credit, they weren't going to make things easy for him as Michael Busch and Bellinger opened the bottom of the ninth up with a pair of singles to put runners on the corners and no outs. That set the stage for Seiya Suzuki, who finally came through with a massive hit in the clutch as he took Ruiz deep to pull the Cubs within 6-4, and suddenly, this was a brand new ballgame.

That was as close as the Cubs would get as Jeff Hoffman and his 1.24 ERA entered the game to take over and went through the Cubs next three hitters to pick up his seventh save of the season.

“We’ve got to do more offensively,” Counsell said after the loss. “Too many easy innings today.”

The Cubs had five hits in the ball game, Suzuki and Bellinger leading the way with two, while Busch added the final hit. The Cubs will look to even the series tomorrow as they send Shota Imanaga to the mound against Zach Wheeler.

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