Giants vs. Cubs at Wrigley Series Recap (3-1)

This was a wild one in the windy city.

Let Cain and Bumgarner go six innings for the quality start and then pull them as standard procedure for a few months, maybe even the whole first half of the season.

This provides two benefits: rest for their arms over the long season and opportunities to develop middle, long and late relief.

One reason I started GBC was to capture memories of crazy weekends that get lost in the rapid, fluid pool of information we all swim through, hoping to memory-hole it prosaically but concisely for reference.

The Windy City

This was the earliest in a regular season that these two clubs ever played at Wrigley Field in the long, storied history of the NY/SF Giants vs. the Chicago Cubs.

The as-yet-unrefurbished park in early Spring and the weather were significant factors. It was 40 degrees when the Giants got off the team bus on Thursday, with icy rain. It was cold, wet, icy and even snowy at moments over the series.

There was no ivy on the wall and the exposed brick damaged Angel Pagan who ran into it and was forced to sit out the rest of one game. This broke up his seven game hit streak. Mike Krukow made an impassioned plea to put padding on the walls at Wrigley. The stadium is currently undergoing a 5-year, $300 million renovation.

There were errors galore in this series, many of which would define the losses for the Cubs.

But an indicator of the conditions is that the errors included Brandon Crawford’s first of the year. The young shortstop has been brilliant and was rock solid barring the error. Brandon is also having continued success at the plate: the weekend series featured his opposite field home run that decided game 1. [Bochy put Crawford in the 2 spot, resting Scutaro – a sweet piece of managing to test out possibilities].

All errors were superseded by the astonishingly bad Wild Pitch/Passed Ball/Balk Parade that lost the last game of the series for Chicago. The hapless Cubs tied a major league record for Wild Pitches in an inning (5) and in the same inning balked in a run! Jon Miller commented, “The last time I saw this many wild pitches was when I watched my ten-year old in a little league game.”

The Giants came from behind in all three victories and though they scored 23 runs in the four games, the lone home run came in the top of the ninth of the last game in dramatic fashion when down a run with two outs in the top of the ninth, ‘The Reverend,’ Hunter Pence, 30 years and a day old, ripped a solo shot to tie the game and take it to the tenth, allowing the Giants to win 10-7 and Sergio Romo to record his seventh save (7-1).

The Giants only loss, in Game Two, came on a pop fly that was carried by the wind of Chicago out of the park – resulting in Sergio Romo’s first missed save.

Since the series was all day games and the last game against Colorado at AT&T was also, the Giants played five straight day games for the first time in 17 years.

A Note on Defense and Nick Noonan

The weather was horrible and it made it hard to play. While the Giants made their share of mistakes, they also performed admirably under the conditions. Great catches by Pagan, Pablo, Blanco and Pence were keys to ending innings.

Nick Noonan’s first start was amazing: it started with his first error, a result of the horrible conditions and one of the first plays of the series, costing the team a run. But he quickly got past it and then shone in his debut going 3 for 4, recording his first hits and earning his first RBI’s.

In 2 games in Chicago, Nick Noonan had 4 hits in 6 at bats, scoring twice and knocking in two runs. In the last game, Noonan pinch hit for Lincecum, and hit a two-run single for the Giants first lead (5-4)! Great work, Nick – MAJOR LEAGUE HIT.

Hitting

The Giants were down and up in the series and developed situational hitting and better performance as the series wore on. They took advantage of Cubs mistakes by the end of the series to win it by being the better team, but they won by slim margins and were forced to fight back with good hitting, base running and defense.

Though the Giants were short on power and struggled with runners in scoring position much of the time, they made key hits.

Brandon Crawford, Gregor Blanco, Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan deserve particular mention. Hunter Pence legged it out to first to prevent double-plays several times. Pagan hustled (he also over-hustled, but that’s what we want from our lead-off man, El Caballero Loco). Crawford’s opposite field home run was a game-winner, but he was equally good getting RBI’s and key hits in the last two games.

Unfortunately, Hector Sanchez is the glaring issue at the plate. But he is a catcher. We are absurdly privileged to have Buster Posey as our catcher – an anomaly in terms of hitting ability. Most teams have a catcher they have to hide in the order because hitting isn’t what they’re on the team to do.

The problem is the absence of his bat coupled with the impression that Tim Lincecum doesn’t want to be caught by Posey. We say there is no conspiracy. Bochy knew he had to rest Posey from catching at least one game in the rotation. Lincecum got matched up with Sanchez early, and it’s better to be consistent, at least at first, especially if there are extenuating circumstances – like Brandon Belt’s stomach virus or Panda’s elbow, or Pagan running into a wall.

Sanchez slumping looks way worse than he is in this context.

Brandon Belt broke out of his slump with a key double in the top of the eighth with two out that gave the Giants the lead in Game Two. Unfortunately the wind carried a pop fly out of the park and Sergio Romo recorded his first missed save.

Starting Pitching

Poor Matt Cain. We had better start a Hall of Fame campaign for The Big Horse now because we have cheated this stable, big, powerful right-hander of run support for Wins for seven years and we did it again in this series – against a weaker opponent! Granted the weather was a factor, but Matt Cain remains winless in the early season.

Madison Bumgarner took his win, but was left in too long, resulting in the two-run homer that marred his otherwise great performance.

Tim Lincecum had his FreakOUT inning but then settled down and retired batters until the Giants could catch up. The formula worked to protect Tim: great defense, situational hitting and taking advantage of Cub mistakes.

Relief

Santiago Casilla glittered in relief Saturday night. The World Baseball Classic Champion pitched two scoreless innings to register his first save of 2013.

George Kontos handled business in Game Four, pitching a scoreless tenth to get the win and set up Sergio Romo, who picked up his seventh save in the bottom of the tenth.

Romo’s sole missed save was burdened with conditional problems – he was forced to go into Game Two suddenly on short warm-up because the Giants took the lead suddenly, with two outs in the 8th on a two-out double by Brandon Belt. Rushed in, Romo dealt and a pop fly turned into a wind-assisted homer.

I blame us:

Want this posted by 9am so I am ending here but wow! What a series with the Cubs in Chicago!

Karthik

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About mtk

I am the artist and author, MTK. I write, make art, think out loud and review and critique books and films and other things here. Just turned 50 recently.
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