There was an unscheduled give-away last night at Citizens Bank Park. All Cubs players 40 and under in attendance received a game courtesy of their hosts.
The home team’s generosity began right out of the gate as Jon Lieber, applauded for his late season cool and experience, bobbled a ball hit right into his glove by the always-dangerous Juan Pierre. One pitch into the contest and the rout was on. Chris Coste then bobbled another pitch and was unable to even make a throw down to second as Pierre glided in. Ryan Theriot followed with a bunt single (Coste’s throw was a little wide and late) and Aramis Ramirez boomed a home run to left field. Three batters, three runs. Lieber wasn’t quite finished for the night as he served up another home run, this one to Pierre leading off the third inning. It was the slugging centerfielder’s third round tripper of the season. The Cubs weren’t done either, especially Ramirez, who hit another three run homer in the top of the fourth, this one of Eude Brito. So much for the latter’s long relief prowess. By then, the Phils trailed 8-0.
No one in a Phillies uniform not named Jose Hernandez acquitted himself particularly well last night. Hernandez came in as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and hit a grand slam, bringing the Phils to within two runs at 8-6. Unfortunately, the rest of his mates failed to deliver in the clutch, including Ryan Howard who struck out twice with runners on. In all fairness to Howard, most of the Phillies failed to deliver against a string of Cubs’ relievers. What can you expect when facing a team whose record coming into the contest was 61-89?
Despite the general ineptitude, the Phils were still in the game when Brian Sanches yielded a home run to Scott Moore to give the Cubs a 9-6 lead. Even so, one had the hope if not suspicion the Phils could mount another comeback, that is until Ryan Madson came in to start the ninth inning and poured more gasoline on the fire, surrendering two more runs to the Cubbies. For the month of September Madson sports an era of 9.64. For the year, it sits at 5.84. Unreliable as a starter and unreliable as a reliever.
So much for momentum. So much for home cooking. So much for capitalizing on Eagles’ fans hoping to find solace across the street. When do the Phils leave for their next road trip?