Utley helps Phillies spoil the party at Wrigley
Second baseman's homer, three RBIs lift visitors in Cubs' home opener
CHICAGO -- Ryne Sandberg is one of the most iconic players in Cubs history, but he showed little compassion for his former team or fan base in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
That's when he made a pitching change with two outs and nobody on base despite a five-run lead.
It might not have been so bad, except 23-mph winds had been cutting through the ballpark for the past three hours in the 7-2 victory. The game-time temperature hit just 38 degrees with a 28-degree wind chill, so any frozen fans who stuck around to see the inevitable result in front of them, booed Sandberg when he asked right-hander Jeff Manship to replace left-hander Mario Hollands to record the game's final out.
"Well, we have a heater in the dugout, so I wasn't that cold," Sandberg said with a chuckle.
The chill was about the only thing the Phillies did not like in their second victory of the season. Right-hander Roberto Hernandez pitched well in his Phillies debut, Chase Utley knocked in three runs with the help of a two-run home run and the bullpen found redemption by picking up the final 11 outs to preserve the lead.
The afternoon started with Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, Billy Williams and Sandberg throwing ceremonial first pitches as the Cubs celebrated the opening of Wrigley Field's 100th season. The Phillies once had Jenkins and Sandberg in the organization before trading both to the Cubs -- Jenkins in 1966 and Sandberg in 1982 -- where they had Hall of Fame careers.
But the nostalgia ended there for Sandberg.
"Yeah, slightly awkward there," he said.
The Cubs carried a 2-0 lead into the fourth inning. Hernandez surrendered three hits, two runs, one walk and struck out five in 5 1/3 innings. He kept the ball down in the strike zone, and pitched economically. He threw just 73 pitches before Sandberg opted to have left-hander Jake Diekman face the left-handed-hitting Anthony Rizzo and Nate Schierholtz for the final two outs in the sixth.
Hernandez did his job, leaving with a one-run lead.
"I've pitched in cold weather," Hernandez said. "I try not to think about the temperature. Just try to keep the ball down and make good pitches."
The Phillies scored their first run in the fourth, when Marlon Byrd scored on a single from Domonic Brown, who went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. The Phillies struck again to take a 3-2 lead in the fifth. Carlos Ruiz, who went 1-for-2 with two walks and a hit by pitch, singled to right and Utley followed with a two-run home run to right-center field.
It was Utley's first homer of the season.
"I was screaming, 'Get in the basket,'" Sandberg said. "It got in the second row, so it carried a little bit further than what I was thinking. I thought it was a basket shot. It carried pretty well."
"I knew it had a shot," Utley said. "I hit it OK, and I got it high enough to catch the jet stream."
Utley singled to right in the seventh to score Ben Revere, who went 3-for-5, to hand the Phillies a two-run lead. John Mayberry Jr. smoked a pinch-hit, two-run home run to left field in the eighth to make it a 6-2 game. Mayberry is 2-for-2 with a double, home run and four RBIs through four games a pinch-hitter.
The Phillies have scored 26 runs in four games, hitting .300 (45-for-150) with six home runs, a .360 on-base percentage and a .467 slugging percentage.
It is just four games, but for a team that scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball last season they will take it.
"I think, overall, we have a pretty decent approach at the plate," Utley said. "I think there's always room for improvement. I like what I've seen so far, but I think definitely we can get better."
The bullpen needed to improve after a rough season-opening series in Texas. It allowed the winning run to score both Tuesday and Wednesday in the bottom of the ninth inning. But Diekman, Justin De Fratus, Antonio Bastardo, Hollands and Manship threw a combined 3 2/3 scoreless innings Friday.
"It works well when we're all doing our part," Hollands said.