The National League Central-leading Cubs will open a three-game series at Philadelphia against the wild-card contending Phillies on Tuesday night. It will be a duel of left-handers as the Cubs' Jose Quintana (10-7, 4.23 ERA) will face off against the Phillies' Jason Vargas (6-6, 4.09).
The Cubs are just 23-35 away from home this season and have not won a road series in 11 tries. The latest effort came this past weekend at Cincinnati, where the Cubs won Sunday's finale by a 6-3 score but went 2-2 in the four-game set against the sub-.500 Reds.
The Cubs had high hopes for the current road trip through Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh after going 5-1 in their most recent homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics. But the start of the current trip included a 10-1 defeat to the Reds on Saturday, when rookie Aristides Aquino hit three home runs, two against starter Kyle Hendricks.
Chicago has a 4.80 ERA on the road this season, 11th in the NL. While the road woes are more than just pitching related, the Cubs have scored 5.03 runs per game at home, compared to 4.98 runs per game on the road, so the pitching side is a strong place to start.
"I can't give you a solid answer," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the problems away from Wrigley Field, according to MLB.com. "They're the same guys. We've been through this before. We've played well on the road. I don't know. I don't know. The other teams have gotten better."
Quintana is 0-1 with a 3.77 ERA against the Phillies in five career starts, and while he has not pitched at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park this season, he is 0-1 there lifetime with a 5.29 ERA in three starts.
The Phillies are a solid 34-26 at home this season and hope to tap into their success there after a 2-5 West Coast road trip through Arizona and San Francisco last week, which ended with a 9-6 defeat against the Giants on Sunday night.
The Phillies won the opener of the trip against the Diamondbacks last Monday, but were outscored 37-21 the rest of the way while losing five of six.
"It was a disappointing road trip -- we didn't execute enough on offense or on the mound," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said, according to MLB.com. "We go back home, we know we're right in the hunt and we continue to fight. That's what we have control over -- how we respond when we get knocked down. This road trip was definitely that. We'll get up, and we'll get up strong."
Vargas lost one of those games Wednesday at Arizona when he gave up four runs on four hits over five innings with three walks. He has yet to pick up a victory and has a 4.76 ERA in two starts with the Phillies since he was dealt from the Mets at the trade deadline.
The veteran is 3-0 lifetime against the Cubs with a 3.95 ERA over seven starts.
--Field Level Media