Rhys Hoskins drove in seven runs in the Phillies’ first two wins at Wrigley Field this week on two homers and two doubles. Andrew McCutchen also drove in seven runs in the series with two homers and two doubles.
McCutchen has been hot much longer than that, ranking fourth in the National League in OPS since June 1 behind only Kyle Schwarber, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado.
Phillies’ manager Joe Girardi raised eyebrows all around town by sitting both players in Thursday’s series finale, but the moves paid huge dividends thanks to Brad Miller, who started in place of Hoskins and homered three times in an 8-0 Phillies win.
The Phils faced Cubs right-hander Adbert Alzolay, who entered with a .932 opponents’ OPS to lefties and a .529 mark versus righties. Those are as pronounced as you’ll see splits from a starting pitcher and Girardi made the decision to sit Hoskins and McCutchen in favor of left-handed-hitting Miller and Travis Jankowski.
Miller homered twice off of Alzolay. The first was a line-drive into the left-field seats in the third inning. With the wind blowing in 10-to-12 mph from left field when the game began, a low liner like Miller’s was the only sort of ball that could’ve realistically left that part of the park.
Miller’s second was a majestic two-run shot to right in the fifth. It was preceded by Jankowski’s bunt single.
In the seventh, Miller hit another two-run homer down the right-field line off of reliever Cory Abbott.
The longballs were the first in over a month for Miller, who has started just four of the Phillies’ last 18 games.
A valuable extra man, Miller is hitting .260 with an .827 OPS in 170 plate appearances. He has nine home runs and 25 RBIs this season and has homered 21 times in exactly 300 plate appearances as a Phillie.
Zach Eflin started for the Phillies and pitched six scoreless innings.
The Phils took three of four games in Chicago and emerged 42-43 as they head to Boston for their final series before the All-Star break.
At Wrigley, they scored 39 runs, homered 13 times and had 23 extra-base hits. Can they carry the momentum into Fenway? The test will be much stiffer. The Red Sox are 20 games over .500 and have won eight in a row at home.