PHILADELPHIA – The boos could be heard as soon as the Cubs lined up for postgame handshakes at Citizens Bank Park.
But a Father’s Day crowd of 41,238 quickly lost interest and started streaming toward the exits. That whatever attitude sums up the hangover the Philadelphia Phillies are dealing with now.
The Cubs blasted rap music inside the visiting clubhouse after Sunday’s 3-0 win, packing for South Beach and enjoying their first road series victory since last September.
The Phillies had Marlon Byrd batting cleanup, Ronny Cedeno playing third base and Cliff Lee resting his elbow on the disabled list. This roster has too many players on the wrong side of 30 getting paid for past performance. They’ll always have the 2008 World Series, but now they’re paying the price of going for it.
That doesn't mean The Cubs Way is going to work or that The Plan has actually followed the script since the Theo Epstein administration took over in the fall of 2011. Or that everything is going to line up on the business side with the Wrigley Field renovation and the TV deals.
But you saw signs of progress on a sunny, 80-degree afternoon in South Philly, and it didn’t even involve Googling videos of Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber.
Travis Wood took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Ben Revere smacked a line-drive single into right field. The left-hander looked like the 2013 All-Star version, saying he’s the same guy even though his numbers are off (7-5, 4.48 ERA).
“We’re playing good ball right now,” Wood said. “We’re not looking sloppy. We’re making plays. We’re hitting. We’re moving runners over. That’s all you can ask for.”
Neil Ramirez – who got bumped back to the Double-A level again last year and wound up being the player to be named later in the Matt Garza deal with the Texas Rangers – handled the ninth inning for his third save and lowered his ERA to 1.06.
Anthony Rizzo blasted his 14th homer off A.J. Burnett and made a spectacular leaping catch at first base. Starlin Castro went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, lifting his average to .281. They’re showing why the Cubs invested more than $100 million in their futures.
“It starts with Travis today,” Rizzo said. “It starts with the pitching. If pitchers keep us in the game, it doesn’t matter if it’s Starlin and I, someone has to come through and get the knock or get that big base hit.
“It’s a total team effort every day.”
These are two last-place teams, but Ryne Sandberg wasn’t building up equity here when the Phillies were winning five consecutive division titles between 2007 and 2011, spending most of that time managing minor-league affiliates for the Cubs.
The Cubs (28-39) will be showcasing Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija the next two nights against the Miami Marlins, having none of the mixed emotions the Phillies (29-38) will feel at the trade deadline.
Right now, manager Rick Renteria doesn’t want to look that far ahead or stare endlessly at the big picture.
“I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it,” Renteria said. “I’m going to continue to deal with the guys that I have. And if and when something like that happens, we’ll deal with it then. But right now, I have no need to burden myself with thinking six weeks down the road, quite frankly. I have enough to concern myself with just in today.”