Cristopher Sanchez, Phillies aim for sweep of Cubs

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cristopher Sanchez added another chapter to his feel-good story on Wednesday, when he was named National League Pitcher of the Month for June.

Sanchez looks to build on his success when he takes the mound against the host Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

Philadelphia is seeking a sweep of the three-game series after winning 5-3 on Wednesday. Rafael Marchan hit a solo homer and Alec Bohm added a two-run blast for the Phillies, who have won three straight and are a season-best 28 games above .500.

Sanchez (6-3, 2.41 ERA) has come a long way since battling for a rotation spot in 2022. He tossed his first shutout (and first complete game) on Friday, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out nine in a 2-0 win over the Miami Marlins.

The 27-year-old left-hander has gone 4-0 with a 1.38 ERA across 39 innings over his past six starts.

“I’m so proud of this kid,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “Now he’s a dominant pitcher, really, in Major League Baseball. When you saw him a couple of years ago, I didn’t think he’d be able to do it. But he’s worked so hard. It’s phenomenal. It really is.”

Sanchez is set to make his first career appearance against the slumping Cubs, who have lost three straight and eight of their past 10 games.

“It’s our job to make breaks, and we’re not doing that enough,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “You’ve got to make plays to win games.”

Chicago will turn to right-hander Jameson Taillon (4-4, 3.03) in the series finale.

Taillon, 32, gave up four runs (three earned) over six innings in a 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday. He has gone 4-2 with a 2.97 ERA in seven home starts this season.

Trea Turner is 3-for-15 with five strikeouts against Taillon, who is 1-4 with an 8.67 ERA in seven career starts vs. Philadelphia.

Taillon will be tasked with slowing down the National League-leading Phillies, who will be well-represented at the All-Star game on July 16 in Arlington, Texas.

Bohm and Turner were named All-Star starters, as was injured star first baseman Bryce Harper.

Bohm is having a breakthrough season with 11 home runs, 70 RBIs and a .299 average, and his manager is looking on with pride.

“I’ve seen where he started,” Thomson said. “I saw his first spring training after he got drafted. To see him at that point and to see him now, he’s a completely different guy, a completely different player, a completely different person.”

The Cubs are hoping to see right fielder Cody Bellinger return to All-Star form. After hitting .307 with 26 homers last season, Bellinger hit just one home run last month and has nine for the season.

“He’s going through a little phase where he’s just not slugging right now,” Counsell said. “Swings go through that. I think we know that. Collecting hits when you’re going through that is kind of what you need to do to keep production up. Overall, he’s done a pretty good job of that.”

–Field Level Media