CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs were everything they were advertised to be on Friday afternoon/evening.
And they looked like what they are – the best team in the majors – as they put a whoopin’ on Adam Morgan and a Phillies club that is slowly cooling after its hot start.
The Cubs rode three home runs to a 6-2 win over the Phils at Wrigley Field (see Instant Replay). It was the Phils’ third loss in four games on this road trip and fifth in the last seven games.
As if the loss wasn't enough, the Phillies' misery was stretched out by a pair of late-game rain delays that totaled 1 hour, 33 minutes.
Scoring runs continues to be a great challenge for the local nine, which entered the day averaging just 3.3 runs per game. The Phils have been held to two or fewer runs 16 times in their 48 games. For the season, they have been outscored by 35 runs.
The Phils are still over .500 at 26-22, but they might not be much longer if they don’t find some offense. They had 10 hits in the game, but only one for extra bases.
"We couldn't string anything together," manager Pete Mackanin lamented afterward.
Complete coverage of the Fightin' Phils and their MLB rivals from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Mackanin was asked if he was worried the offensive shortcomings were catching up with the team.
“I wouldn’t say I’m worried about it,” he said. “I’ve been conscious of it the whole season. We certainly would like to have more offense, a little bit more power.
“You look at the Cubs, you look at the Tigers, they’ve got power and home-run threats to do damage. We haven’t been able to do that. So, of course, I’m always concerned it might catch up with us, but as long as the pitching does its job we’re going to be in as many games as they allow us to be in.”
Starting pitching is a big reason the Phillies came into Wrigley Field five games over .500. It has kept them in games to the point where a big hit or big defensive play can win it.
But the starting pitching was not there in this game and that’s a problem when you’re facing the Cubs. They are a team has been built to break a 108-year World Series championship drought. They are averaging 5.7 runs per game, best in the National League, and have outscored their opponents by a whopping 123 runs. Their 32 wins are the most in the majors.
The Cubs pounded Morgan for six runs in four innings. He was tagged for eight hits and five were for extra bases, including three homers.
Morgan really struggled in the fourth inning. He gave up a mammoth 461-foot homer to Jorge Soler to lead off the frame. Four batters later, David Ross followed a walk and a single with a three-run home run to left and the Friday afternoon Happy Hour was on at Wrigley – at least until the skies opened in the seventh. Morgan gave up a third home run (to Kris Bryant) in the fifth.
“You try to be consistent and give your team a chance to win,” Morgan said. “When you put them in a hole like that it’s hard.”
Two of the homers Morgan allowed came on 1-2 counts. One was on a slider, the other a fastball. Neither put the hitter away, obviously. Poor location.
“Morgan didn’t have it today,” Mackanin said. “He really didn’t have command of any of his pitches. He struggled to make pitches when he needed to. You can overcome a solo home run, but that home run by Ross was the one that got us out of the game.”
In six starts, Morgan has an ERA of 6.67.
“He’s one good start, one bad start, one good start, one bad start. He's got to be more consistent,” Mackanin said. “At this level you have to be consistent to be successful. He’s capable of doing it. He just has to do it.”
Mackanin was asked whether Morgan’s spot in the rotation was in jeopardy. He did not give a direct answer.
“Nobody is solid in their spots,” the manager said. “Last year, I talked a lot about how you’re auditioning every day. At this level, consistency is the hallmark of a good major-league player. That includes pitchers.”