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After managing just two runs the entire ballgame on Friday, the Chicago Cubs came out this afternoon and laid a goose egg, dropping a painful 2-0 shutout to Cliff Lee and the Phillies. Chase Utley continued his torrid start to the new season, reaching base four times today including a home run, and a double to officially win the series at Wrigley.
Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 1.42 ERA) certainly put in his best effort, punching out eight batters in seven innings, giving up just six hits and two earned runs in an unfortunate first loss of the year. If it weren’t for Chase Utley, the results would have been even better for Shark, who has started the season very well two starts in.
Cliff Lee was better though, tossing seven shutout frames, striking out six men and scattering ten hits. Lee really had Cubs hitters screwing themselves into the ground all afternoon, working out of many possible threatening situations to down Chicago. Jake Diekman and Jonathan Papelbon both picked up where Lee left off, allowing just one baserunner in the final two frames.
The Cubs’ offense was truly stifled by Lee and the Phillies all day, as an astonishing 18 men were left on base today, without even a single run despite Chicago tallying 10 hits in the game. Justin Ruggiano was a large rally-killer in this one, leaving six men on base in four hitless at-bats to thoroughly end any momentum the Cubs managed to gain. Ruggiano wasn’t alone in that department, as Mike Olt, Welington Castillo and Darwin Barney went hitless as well.
Chicago desperately needs to turn this around, as after the terrible effort at the plate today, they have an amazing total of just four base hits in 40 at-bats with runners in scoring position. While of course everyone will say don’t worry, it’s just five games in, there are some serious issues here to start the year.
The series at Wrigley wraps up tomorrow afternoon at the same time, as Cubs starting pitchers will look to continue their red-hot start to the year after totaling just a sub-2.00 ERA in these first five games. Carlos Villanueva (0-2, 13.50 ERA) will indeed get the start after pitching twice out of the pen in Pittsburgh, set to square off against A.J. Burnett (0-0, 1.50 ERA) who was great in his first time around.