Taking Advantage

Game Thirty-Three – Cubs 2 Phillies 7
WP – Cole Hamels (5-1) LP – Rich Hill (4-2) Save – None

Friday night started out the same as most of Rich Hill’s outings this season. Hill worked fast, appeared very confident and allowed just 2 hits in the first 3 innings. Most importantly, Hill threw strikes. After 3 innings of work, Hill had thrown just 36 pitches, only 9 out of the strike zone with first pitch strikes to 8 of the first 9 he faced. In the 4th inning, Hill walked Aaron Rowand on 4 pitches, hit Chase Utley and gave up the first of two home runs on the night to Pat Burrell. Hill threw 5+ innings and allowed 5 runs on 4 hits, struck out 7 but it was the 4 extra base runners that was the difference in the game.

Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez hit solo home runs while Angel Pagan came up just short of a 3-run homer in the 6th that would have given the Cubs the lead. Derrek Lee was unable to reach base for the first time this season and brought his consecutive games streak to an end. The Cubs’ offense continues to be impatient at the plate and while they hit the ball just as good as any team in the league, their in ability to take pitches and make a pitcher work must change. The Cubs managed just 2 walks and other than great at bats by Mark DeRosa and Angel Pagan in the 4th inning, the entire team appears to be walking to plate swinging. Until they start working the count, the amount of runners left on base and most importantly in scoring position, will continue to rise. They out hit the Phillies, 9 to 7, drew 2 walks but the two teams ended up with the same amount of base runners.

While Rich Hill struggled in the 4th inning, it must be noted that after the 3-run home run, he settled down and retired 5 in a row before walking Shane Victorino with 2 outs in the 5th. Hill recovered and struck out Aaron Rowand to end the inning. In the 6th, Hill walked Chase Utley to lead off the inning before giving up the second home run of the night to Pat Burrell.

Rich Hill is going to give up home runs but he has shown the ability to limit the amount of walks he allows, on Friday night he did not. Michael Wuertz relieved Hill in the 6th and retired the 3 batters he faced before being lifted for Neal Cotts in the 7th. Cotts gave up the other 2 runs of the night in the 7th.

Greg Dobbs led off the 7th with a single to left center and with 1-out Shane Victorino singled to left. Rowand grounded out to 3rd, the runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd and Chase Utley followed with a single to left center that drove in both runs.

Cole Hamels has been just as impressive as Rich Hill this season. While both pitchers gave up 2 home runs, Hamels was able to limit his to solo shots. The Cubs hit Hamels hard but not when it mattered most.

A 2-out walk in the 2nd by Matt Murton was the only base runner against Hamels until Alfonso Soriano hit his 4th home run of the season with 2 outs in the 3rd inning (the home run extended Soriano’s hitting streak to 19 games and tied him with J.J. Hardy for the longest in the National League this season, Soriano’s is the longest current streak in the league). Ryan Theriot followed with a double. Victorino tried to make a diving catch, could not and the always-hustling Theriot stretched it to a double. But Derrek Lee hit the first offering from Hamels to Wes Helms at 1st base to end the inning.

Aramis Ramirez led off the 4th inning with his 8th home run of the season. Murton reached on an infield single with 1-out (Abraham Nunez jumped to catch the ball and it bounced off the webbing of his glove and he was unable to recover and throw out Murton at first). Hamels retired DeRosa and Pagan, despite good at bats, to end the inning. In the 5th, Soriano doubled with 1-out, stole 3rd with Theriot at the plate but neither Theriot or Lee were able to drive him in from 3rd.

In the 6th, Murton singled to left with 1-out, DeRosa worked a walk after starting the at bat 0-2. Angel Pagan hit a deep fly that was caught by Pat Burrell with his back against the wall in left….the last scoring chance on the night.

While the Cubs were outplayed on Friday night, they also did little to help their own cause. After Friday night’s loss, .500 does not sound that bad after all.

Angel Guzman is scheduled to take the hill on Saturday afternoon against former Southsider, Freddy Garcia….on Fox Saturday Baseball.