The Phillies have finally won a series after dropping five straight games, taking Sunday’s rubber match against the Cubs 2-1. Taijuan Walker rebounded masterfully from an atrocious start Wednesday in San Francisco, and Bryson Stott showed some much needed power with a pinch-hit two-run blast.
Walker was brilliant Sunday afternoon, showing renewed command against a struggling Cubs team. The 30-year-old tossed 5.1 scoreless frames on only three days’ rest, yielding only two hits and three walks, while punching out three. Walker was pulled after 87 pitches in the top of the sixth, and Seranthony Domínguez worked around a bit of a jam to keep the game scoreless.
Matt Strahm continued his fantastic start to the year, firing a scoreless frame to put him in line for the win. Connor Brogdon and Gregory Soto combined to keep the Cubs off the board in the eighth, and Craig Kimbrel came on in the ninth looking for his 399th save of his career. Kimbrel gave up a solo shot to the streaking Christopher Morel, but secured the 2-1 victory to put him on the doorstep of save number 400.
Neither team did much at the plate, as the 0-0 tie went all the way into the seventh. The Phillies’ power outage this year has led to a suspicious lack of long balls, but Sunday proved to be different. With one out and Edmundo Sosa on second, Bryson Stott was called upon to pinch hit for Josh Harrison. Cubs pitcher Adbert Alzolay grooved a 1-2 fastball, and Stott provided some power of his own, crushing it into the right field seats to put the Phils on top 2-0.
Sunday’s victory was a breath of fresh air all the way around for a Phillies team that has ridden a roller coaster all season. Taijuan Walker has disappointed in the first month-plus of his Phillies tenure, but looked every bit the marquee signing we hoped he would be. Bryson Stott got off the schneid in a huge way, giving the Phils just enough power to take home a series win. Hopefully, the Phils will be able to carry this success into Monday’s series opener against the Diamondbacks.