In the latest episode of the Walking Dead at Citizens Bank Park, starring the Phillies offense, only one base runner from the home team advanced beyond first base in the game’s first eight innings.
Jimmy Rollins, former igniter of a potent Phillies offense and current record chaser, attempted to change the script late Friday night. He led off the bottom of the ninth with a booming double off the right field wall, flirting with a home run.
The two-base hit was the 2,234th hit of Rollins career. In the 132-year history of the Phillies franchise, only one player has as many hits: Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, considered the best third baseman to ever play the game.
Rollins will have a chance to move past Schmidt and claim the record all to himself on Saturday.
On Friday, Rollins found his way from second to home, thanks to a two-out single from Domonic Brown. But it would be the one and only run for the Phillies on Friday night.
Jake Arrieta tossed seven shutout innings as the Chicago Cubs, owners of the second-worst record in baseball, beat the Phillies 2-1. The loss snapped the Phillies three-game winning streak.
The Phils haven’t won more than three games in a row in over a calendar year: June 2-6 2013.
"We haven’t been doing a lot of winning … not in general, but in streaks especially," Rollins said. "We have a chance to win the series and go on the road."
Tying Schmidt was a bit bittersweet for Rollins, since it came in a one-run defeat.
"I’m waiting right along with everyone else; it has been fun though," Rollins said. "The last four days honestly, we’ve played some good baseball. Even if we didn’t have a lot of hits, we had been finding a way to win.
"Tonight wasn’t the case, but I like the way we are going about handling our business. That’s part of it, it’s nice to do it. Hopefully tomorrow is a day where we get a win."
Arrieta entered the night with a 5.01 ERA in 85 career games. But he lowered his 2014 season ERA to 2.09 by baffling the punchless Phillies bats.
Arrieta retired 21 of the 24 batters he faced. He struck out nine while walking one.
The Phillies ninth-inning run prevented them from being shut out for the 9th time in 65 games this season and for the sixth time in their last 22 games at hitter-happy Citizens Bank Park.
Although they managed to avoid the shut out, the Phillies did lose another game at Citizens Bank Park. Even after sweeping the San Diego Padres at home this week, the Phillies are 15-20 in their own ballpark in 2014.
The Phillies have scored two runs or fewer in 23 of their 65 games this season, or in 35.4 percent of their games. They are 4-19 in those games.
The Phillies haven’t won a game in which they’ve scored two runs or fewer since May 4. They’ve lost 12 straight times when they’ve scored under three runs.
"We just came up on the short end," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Just a little too late on the offensive side with the rally. … We just weren’t able to do that early in the game."
The Phillies didn’t just have trouble finding home plate on Friday. They went the first half of the game without a hit.
In a Friday night battle between the two teams with the fewest wins in the National League, the Phillies pitcher, Roberto Hernandez, was ejected without warning in the middle of the sixth inning (after hitting Starlin Castro with a pitch) and the Cubs starter hadn’t allowed entering the fifth inning.
Arrieta was attempting to become the first opposing pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Philadelphia since …. May 25, or less than three weeks ago.
The no-hit drama was short lived. After Marlon Byrd struck out to begin the fifth, Brown hit an opposite-field double off Arrieta to give the Phillies their second base runner of the game.
Brown didn’t advance beyond second base.
"We just couldn’t get anything going off Arrieta," Sandberg said. "Established his fastball and a big curve. We couldn’t get anything going on off of him."
Castro, meanwhile, was responsible for the only runs the Cubs scored, hitting a two-run home run off Hernandez in the fourth inning. Two innings later, the next time he stepped up the plate, Castro was plunked.
Home plate umpire Mark Ripperger weirdly wasted little time ejecting Hernandez.
"I was very, very surprised," Hernandez said. "I didn’t throw that on purpose. I had two outs. I wanted to pitch into the next next inning."
Hernandez said he asked Ripperger, "Why?" He did not get a response.
"In our opinion, he threw at the hitter," umpire crew chief Gary Cederstrom said after the game.
"I thought the appropriate action was taken," Cederstrom said.
Since his pitcher had never been given a warning, Sandberg rushed out to argue with Ripperger.
Sandberg was tossed, too. It was the first-year manager’s second ejection in the last six games.
"We’re not trying to throw at anybody there," Sandberg said. "Hernandez wasn’t trying to hit anybody. Quick toss of the pitcher with no warning. No reason to think he was throwing at anybody."