The Philadelphia Phillies lost their momentum from before the All-Star break.
They’ll look to regain it when they host the Chicago Cubs in the middle game of a three-game series on Saturday.
After winning three in a row on the road against the Miami Marlins, the Phillies returned home after the break and were drubbed 15-2 by the Cubs on Friday.
Kyle Schwarber and Darick Hall each homered for the Phillies, but it was far from enough against a team that had lost nine of 10 heading into the series. The Phillies looked flat most of the game.
Still, the key is compiling series victories while reigning National League Most Valuable Player Bryce Harper and Jean Segura each recover from injuries. Both players could return in mid-August to help the Phillies toward the playoffs. Philadelphia currently is in a wild-card position.
“The finger is doing really, really good,” said Segura, who has been dealing with an injured right index finger. “We’ll see over the next couple days how I feel … I can’t wait to come back and contribute. The boys have been doing a really good job. I’m proud of my teammates right now.”
Philadelphia will hand the ball to right-hander Zack Wheeler (8-5, 2.89 ERA) on Saturday. Wheeler is 2-2 with a 4.54 ERA in six career starts against the Cubs.
In Wheeler’s most recent outing on July 13, he was tagged for seven hits and six runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays. It was Wheeler’s first loss since June 22.
“They worked him pretty hard,” interim manager Rob Thomson said of Wheeler. “He started out really good, he was throwing the ball well, just started missing locations.”
The Cubs will look for their third straight win and their second in a row over the Phillies on Saturday.
On Friday, they had 19 hits, including two home runs and five RBIs from Nelson Velazquez off the bench. All-Star Willson Contreras added a home run and double, and Seiya Suzuki and All-Star Ian Happ contributed four hits apiece.
It has been a rough season for the Cubs, who have 57 losses. But they haven’t given up. That much was evident on Friday.
“It’s the way we stick together,” Contreras said on a postgame interview on Apple TV.
“We were able to put together good at-bats, we got some hits and we had a good game,” Contreras said.
Velazquez’s numbers might have been enhanced since one of his home runs came against position player Garrett Stubbs. But he provided a spark off the bench nonetheless.
“I mean, to be honest, I hate facing a position player,” Velazquez said. “Because position players throw really slow and another throws harder. Sometimes, you don’t know how fast they want to throw. I try to be easy and not do too much.”
Right-hander Marcus Stroman (2-5, 4.69) is scheduled to start for the Cubs on Saturday. Stroman is 4-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 10 career games (eight starts) against the Phillies.
In Stroman’s most recent start against the New York Mets on July 16, he gave up one hit and one run with six strikeouts and two walks in 4 1/3 innings. It was just his second start since dealing with inflammation in his right shoulder.
–Field Level Media