National League foes the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies will close out their three-game weekend series this afternoon as Major League Baseball’s 2018 season inches closer to its finale.
The Phillies took the series’ opener Friday 2-1 over Chicago. That game was a pitcher’s duel as it wasn’t until the top of the 5th inning that the game’s first run was scored by Chicago. the Phillies tied it up in the bottom of the 6th with a run of their own. After Philadelphia tied it up, the game was forced into extra innings, and the Phillies would take advantage of the overtime setup, adding one more run for the 2-1 final.
Pat Neshek (2-1) was credited with the win for the Phillies while Steve Cishek (4-2) took the loss for Chicago. This was despite fellow Chicago pitcher Jose Quintana (11-9) pitching six innings in the game. Quintana allowed just one run on three hits, one earned run, and one walk while striking out seven Phillies batters.
Philadelphia starter Nick Pivetta (7-10) meanwhile was almost as solid as Quintana, allowing only one run and one earned run on five hits while walking three Cubs batters and striking out six.
Chicago controlled Game Two right from the start, scoring two runs in the first. two more followed in the third with three more runs coming in total between the seventh and ninth inning. Philadelphia was held to just one run in the game. That lone run came from outfielder Odubel Hererra.
The Phillies’ woes weren’t limited to just that lone run. Pitcher reliever Austin Davis had his cheat sheet taken by umpire Joe West during Saturday’s game. The sheet told Davis how to throw to the Cubs’ batters, and while not illegal, should not have been in Davis’ possession according to MLB rules section 6.02 (c) (7), which bans pitchers having any “foreign substance” on their person during a game.
Jon Lester (14-5) is expected to get the start for the Cubs in today’s series finale. Lester’s last time on the mound was Tuesday against the Mets, and he had a bit of a rough time in that game. Over the course of six innings, he allowed three runs and three earned runs on five hits while walking three batters, allowing one home run and striking out three Mets batters.
Aaron Nola (15-3) is currently expected to get the start for Philadelphia. His last time on the mound was also Tuesday, in this case against Washington. The Nats took that game 5-4 in nine. While Nola got the start, Neshek took the loss in the game for the Phillies.
Nola had a rough time in Tuesday’s game, pitching seven innings. Over the course of that time, he allowed two runs, one earned run and two walks on four hits while striking out eight Washington batters.
Looking at each team’s overall stats, the numbers don’t favor fully one team over another. Philadelphia is playing host to Chicago for the series, and has been far better at home so far this season than at home, going 43-24 at home and 29-38 on the road.
Chicago meanwhile has also proven better at home than on the road, going 44-24 at home and 35-31 on the road so far this season.
Chicago has gone 8-2 in its last 10 games and sits atop the National League Central standings with just a narrow 3.5 game lead over second place St. Louis. Philadelphia meanwhile sits second in the National League East, but has gone 4-6 in its last 10 games. At the same time though, Philadelphia is only two games behind the division-leading Atlanta, so this afternoon’s series closer will have major playoff implications for both teams.
Brian Anderson will have the call for this afternoon’s broadcast on TBS. He will be joined in the booth by analyst Ron Darling for additional commentary. Coverage is currently scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. and the game will be blacked out in Chicago.
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