Why Adam Morgan There? Questions Abound After Horrible Phillies Loss


CHICAGO - This was a night Dylan Cozens will remember for the rest of his life.

Unfortunately, it was also a night Adam Morgan would want to be wiped from his memory.

Jason Heyward, who had just one home run against a left-hander in the last two seasons, spoiled Cozens' night, spoiled Seranthony Dominguez's night and prevented a Phillies series win with a shocking walk-off grand slam off Morgan.

It was no cheapie. The sellout crowd at Wrigley Field was deafening, a la Citizens Bank Park a decade ago, yet the crack of Heyward's bat on Morgan's 2-2 fastball cut through every voice.

A half-inning earlier, Cozens delivered what appeared to be the knockout blow for the Phillies. Against a very good closer in Brandon Morrow, Cozens untied the game with a two-run, opposite-field homer, his first as a major-leaguer.

What would have been a big win for the Phillies and a demoralizing loss for the Cubs flipped. Weeks or months from now, the Cubs won't remember that they blew a three-run lead or that Joe Maddon pulled his starting pitcher a batter too early (see first take). They'll just remember Heyward's heroics in the 7-5 win.

"It was the typical way that I would attack a lefty. It was just a bad pitch," Morgan said in a somber visiting clubhouse. 

Morgan wanted the pitch down and away. Instead, it was center-cut and up in the strike zone. 

"I felt confident in facing Heyward, being lefty on lefty. It was just a bad pitch," Morgan said. 

The majority of Phillies fans have little patience with Morgan. Keep in mind, though, that Morgan entered this game with a 2.35 ERA in 23 appearances. Dating back to late 2017, 35 of his last 44 outings have been scoreless. 

Lefties hit just .193 last season against Morgan. This season, they had gone 8 for 27 (.296) but had zero extra-base hits.

None of that matters right now, though.

Two of the Cubs' four runs were charged to Dominguez, whose ERA is no longer 0.00, it's 1.13. Nothing lasts forever.

Many questioned Wednesday night why Kapler did not leave Dominguez in after he put two men on base with one out in the ninth. That's probably not the right question to be asking, though. After a 1-2-3 eighth inning, Dominguez walked Kyle Schwarber on four pitches to start the ninth. After striking out Javier Baez, he put runners on the corners. Dominguez was up to 26 pitches after also pitching last night. Do you really want him reaching 35 to 40 pitches, especially under that much stress? The plan all along was likely to pull Dominguez if trouble ensued.

The more important question is why Morgan got the nod. Due up were switch-hitters Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist, then Heyward. Of course you want a lefty in to face Heyward, but if the man relieving Dominguez gets those next two outs, you never face Heyward. Why not Edubray Ramos? Why not Luis Garcia, who was warming up alongside Morgan?

"There was no hesitation on bringing Seranthony back [for the ninth]," Kapler said. "We have a lot of trust in him. He was really, really sharp in that first inning. 

"In that second inning he was imperfect, but he's human. He's not going to throw scoreless innings for the rest of his life. That was definitely an opportunity for us to give him a high-leverage moment and it was the right opportunity for us to give [Morgan] a high-leverage moment. Mo was prepared to challenge Heyward and Heyward put a good swing on it."

This was the kind of night when a short turnaround is beneficial. The Phillies will be back at it Thursday at 2:20 p.m. to try to win the series and end their road trip with a 4-6 record.

There are actually 21 major-league teams with more blown saves than the Phillies. As horrible as this loss feels, it's not unique to them. It just feels like it because this is the first time in at least five years that there are legit expectations and that every win and loss has meaning.

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