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Preview: Cubs (82-58) at Phillies (54-88)
Venue: Citizens Bank Park
Date: September 12, 2015 7:05 PM EDT
The Chicago Cubs continue to show just how good they’ve been since being embarrassed by the lowly Philadelphia Phillies in July.
Looking to build on a doubleheader sweep of the Phillies, the Cubs can secure a win of this four-game road series Saturday night.
Chicago (82-58) was outscored 21-8, recorded 15 hits and was no-hit by Cole Hamels during a three-game home sweep by Philadelphia from July 24-26. However, the Cubs are 31-12 since that series after totaling 22 hits and outscoring the Phillies 12-4 to take both games Friday.
“That’s a good hitting team,” Game 1 loser Adam Morgan said of the Cubs, who have 70 home runs in the last 43 games.
With a firm grasp of the NL’s second wild-card spot and two games behind Pittsburgh for the top position, Chicago has clinched its first winning season since 2009.
Kris Bryant went 5 for 10 with a homer and four RBIs on the day and Kyle Schwarber homered in his first two at-bats in the nightcap. Bryant’s 90 RBIs are a club rookie record and by far the most from a rookie in the majors this year.
‘It just shows, when there’s people on base he becomes an even better hitter,’ manager Joe Maddon said. ‘You get guys with that mentality, it makes all the difference in the world.’
Dan Haren (9-9, 3.73 ERA) went 1-2 with a 5.87 ERA in his first six starts since joining the Cubs at the trade deadline, then pitched seven innings in Monday’s 9-0 win at St. Louis. It marked the first time in 10 starts that he didn’t allow any of his major league-leading 30 home runs.
“It feels good to go deep in a game like that,” said Haren, who pitched into the seventh one other time with Chicago.
The right-hander is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts against the Phillies this year.
Ryan Howard and Freddy Galvis are each 3 for 7 with two home runs against Haren in 2015. Howard, though, is 1 for 35 with nine strikeouts in his last nine games after recording that hit in Friday’s second contest.
‘It happens to the best of them,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “We’re just hoping he’s going to get hot again.’
Jerad Eickhoff (1-3, 4.70) posted a 2.84 ERA in his first three career starts with Philadelphia, then dropped his third in a row after allowing six runs and eight hits in four innings of Sunday’s 6-2 loss at Boston.
“I’m as stubborn as they come,” Eickhoff told MLB’s official website. “And I want to come up here, and no matter how bad it’s looking or how bad it is, I want to go out there for my team and try to get as deep as I can.”
The right-hander expects to learn and grow from the worst outing of his young career.
“I think it’s a good reference point for sure,” Eickhoff said.
He could face Starlin Castro, who is 9 for 16 with two home runs and five RBIs in his last five contests. He’s hitting .364 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 17 career games at Philadelphia.