CHICAGO — Andrew McCutchen looked first to center field, waiting to be certain that his fly ball in the first inning Tuesday night had enough to carry over the Wrigley Field ivy. The first three batters reached base against Jake Arrieta in 15-10 win over the Cubs and this — a grand slam — would be quite the blow to the pitcher the Phillies once gave $75 million.
McCutchen’s homer cleared the fence, he turned to the Phillies dugout, flipped his bat, and the rout was on. The Phillies won for the fourth time in five games and handed the Cubs their 11th straight defeat. Arrieta threw just 55 pitches, leaving the mound in the second inning with an uncertain future.
The Phillies scored 28 runs in their first two games at Wrigley and will ride Zack Wheeler on Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series. How they handled this road trip to Chicago and Boston would provide an indication of how the Phils will act later this month at the trade deadline. Two wins is a good start.
Bryce Harper gets booed in nearly every visiting ballpark, but the fans on Chicago’s North Side may jeer him more than any other crowd. Harper did his best Tuesday to silence them.
“Bryce is used to it. He gets booed at every stadium he goes to except ours,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s equipped to handle it.”
The fans in the right-field bleachers heckled Harper in the sixth inning with an unfavorable chant as he played the outfield. Harper stood in right field, absorbed it, and then responded by hitting a three-run homer in the seventh.
“Fan bases love their teams and hate opposing players. That’s just how it is,” Harper said. “I respect Cubs fans. They’re loyal and those are the type of fans you want to come here and play against. They show up every night. It’s always fun coming in here.”
Harper went 5-for-6 with four RBIs. His five hits tied a career high and his homer was his seventh in 13 games. It was his first non-solo homer of the season. Harper said last month that he enjoys the way he is treated on the road. He played like it on Tuesday. In one night, he raised his average from .267 to .282 and pushed his OPS from .878 to .914.
“I didn’t really realize it until I got to 13 and [Andrew] Knapp said ‘Hey, man, you know you haven’t hit a homer with guys on base yet?’ I was like ‘Man, I’ve been that bad with guys on base, huh?’” Harper said. “To be able to come into the dugout today and Knapp said, ‘Hey, you did it. Finally.’ Here we go. Hopefully I can do that a couple more times.”
New front man
Joe Girardi said Tuesday afternoon that he planned to rest Odubel Herrera for a couple of days as the outfielder was struggling to produce in the leadoff spot. New leadoff man Jean Segura doubled on the first pitch he saw and went 4-for-6 with two RBIs. Segura leads the team in batting average and on-base percentage and could be the new everyday leadoff hitter. The first three batters — Segura, J.T. Realmuto, and Harper — each reached base in their first three trips to the plate.
Aaron Nola pitched six innings, but it wasn’t an easy night. He allowed four runs on six hits while striking out eight. The Phillies spotted Nola a seven-run lead in the second inning, but he allowed three runs in the third to keep the Cubs in the game.
Nola has a 6.00 ERA in seven starts since June 1 and has now pitched 40 more innings than he did last season. Every pitcher is throwing more innings this season, but it’s worth wondering if the workload is taking a toll on Nola.
“I feel fine. No fatigue, honestly,” Nola said. “I feel like it’s no different than 2019. Keep staying healthy and keep trying to throw as many innings as possible. But 40 innings over last year? It doesn’t even feel like it, to be honest with you.”
The Phillies faced Jake Arrieta for the first time since he left as a free agent after last season. And they may have cost him his spot in the Cubs’ rotation.
Arrieta was already under pressure after entering Tuesday with a 8.31 ERA in his previous six starts. Allowing seven runs and lasting just 1⅔ innings for the second straight start won’t silence that noise. The Cubs, who signed Arrieta before the season for $6 million, may soon push him out of their rotation.
“He’s a competitor. He’s one of the best guys I’ve played with,” Harper said. “One of the best relationship-wise that I have with somebody, I would say. He’s a pro. He’s a pro’s pro. He took care of the young guys on our team. He took care of us as well. Always lending that hand whenever we needed it. If we needed something done, he got it done. Going to dinners and things like that, he was always that guy.
“I have nothing but respect for Jake. He’s had an incredible career. I mean, Cy Youngs, World Series. Unbelievable playoff games he was able to pitch in. I mean, I can’t say enough about how great of a person he is. Really good family as well. I love the guy.”
Zack Wheeler makes his final start of the first half on Wednesday night against Alec Mills. Wheeler enters Wednesday with a 2.05 ERA. Just two Phillies pitchers since 1950 — Chris Short in 1964 and Curt Simmons in 1952 — have ended the first half with a lower ERA. After Wednesday, his next appearance could be as the National League’s starter in the All Star Game.