It has to be a bit strange for former Cub Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg to manage against the club he played for for 15 years. Lucky for him, he only had to do so for about a half-game tonight.
Sandberg, in his first season as Phillies manager, was ejected for the second time in a week – and Jake Arrieta (2-1, 2.09) carved through the Phillies lineup like a sharp knife through a cheese steak sandwich in the Cubs 2-1 win over Philadelphia tonight at Citizen’s Bank Ballpark.
Starlin Castro provided the offensive punch with a two-run home run in the fourth inning, Arrieta provided the pitching for seven strong innings and Sandberg provided the fireworks while getting thrown out in the sixth inning – and the Cubs (27-38) started the three-game set in Philadelphia (28-37) with a much-needed win.
Phillies starter Roberto Hernandez (2-5, 4.26) hit Castro with the first pitch to him after his fourth inning home run on a riding fastball that bounced squarely off of Castro’s left elbow. Hernandez was immediately thrown out by home plate umpire Mark Ripperger, which brought Sandberg out of the dugout. Sandberg was irate and got his two cents worth as be was being thrown out of a major league game for only the third time in his career as a player and as a manager.
Two of those occurrences have been this week, however. He was only ejected once as a player in his 16 years as a major leaguer.
Sandberg’s ire could be understood, given Hernandez’ propensity to ride his fastball in on right-handed hitters. Sandberg certainly didn’t agree with Ripperger, but was sent to the showers early anyway.
Arrieta was the other story of the night, going seven stellar innings while yielding only two hits and no runs. Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless eighth and Neil Ramirez was brought in to face Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the ninth. Not your everyday save opportunity.
And it wasn’t an easy save, by any means.
Rollins led off the ninth with a double off the right-field wall – the 2,234th hit of his career which tied for him atop the Phillies all-time list with Mike Schmidt – before Ramirez got Utley to pop out to left field. Rollins stole third while Ramirez faced the tying run Howard and struck him out. Ramirez walked former Cub Marlon Bryd to bring the winning run to the plate in Dominic Brown – who drove in Rollins with a single to right to make it 2-1. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz was caught looking on a 1-2 slider on the black that sent the Cubs to their second win of the road trip. The save was the second of the year for Ramirez.
Tomorrow afternoon it’s a presidential matchup in the city that houses Constitution Hall. Edwin Jackson (4-6, 4.70) will get the ball for the Cubs and David Buchanan (1-3, 6.08) will go for the Phils. Comcast SportsNet has the game on the TV side – WGN radio AM 720 will carry the radio broadcast.