Cubs @ Giants Series Review: Cubs Drop Two by Bay to Open Key Road Trip

Friends, this is a safe, non-judgmental space where we can tell the truth and not feel any shame for it. I know you were as frustrated by the Cubs dropping the first two games of this series as you were relieved that they managed to avoid the sweep by winning on Wednesday afternoon. We can be honest about that.

But let’s also be honest about those first two games, too. As frustrating as the were, they would’ve felt even worse had you not fallen asleep before the end. For those of us in the central or eastern time zones, these late West Coast starts are just slogs. While some of you may have been dedicated enough to stay up late into the night to see the Cubs drop a pair of one-run decisions, including an extra innings loss on Tuesday, many of you were not.

And that’s not such a bad thing because those losses were frustrating with a capital “Fffffffffff.” Sometimes, you just don’t get the breaks, and that’s how it felt in both games. Fans that did watch were treated to a blown 3-0 lead capped off by an 8th inning Pedro Strop meltdown on Monday and an extra innings letdown on Tuesday.

So if you could only be awake for one game, aren’t you glad it was Wednesday afternoon’s victory? There’s very little in baseball that’s more satisfying than a total team win, and the Cubs got that in spades. Home runs by Javy Báez, Kris Bryant, and Albert Almora Jr. backed spot-starter Tyler Chatwood and five Cubs relievers en route to a pretty nifty win.

That it couldn’t be a series win is a disappointing, but not disastrous, start to an important road trip. West Coast journeys have been historically unkind to the Cubs, so, as we’ve seen many times, it could’ve been worse.


Key moments

The real key moment of Monday’s series-opening loss was obviously Strop’s disastrous 8th inning. Fun wasn’t had, you know that. I suspect you can do without those highlights because it was a bad loss, but it wasn’t without its moments.

One such moment was rookie Robel Garcia‘s titanic home run into McCovey Cove.

In light of Addison Russell‘s demotion to Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday, it’s a fair bet that we’ll be treated to more of Garcia so long as he stays hot. You won’t catch me complaining.

The second game of the series proved that the sequel is often just as much of a letdown as the original. Yu Darvish was okay at best, giving up four runs in six innings, but the real Cubs highlight came in the 8th inning. With two outs in the inning and runners on first and third, Jason Heyward smacked a game-tying single up the middle.

Ultimately, J-Hey’s heroics would only prolong our suffering as the Cubs coughed up the game on a 13th inning walk-off home run to Pablo Sandoval.

Wednesday’s win featured a bevy of highlights, including the trio of home runs mentioned above. None stood out more than Javy’s long solo shot in the top of the 1st inning to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

If that looked like just another El Mago homer, look again. Look where that pitch was! How many guys can hit a pitch like that as far as he did? Not many, I suspect.

Not much beats a home run, but you know what does? A win. After a little bit of two out wobbliness, that’s exactly what Craig Kimbrel and the Cubs got as he retired Brandon Belt to secure the victory.

Who’s hot

  • I am shocked how few times I have come across the term “Bráez.” Aside from being a fun subversion of expectations, it’s a pretty solid portmanteau in its own right. The Bráez Souvenir Company was hard at work in this series. Bryant drove in his magical teammate three times in the set, including via home run on Wednesday.
  • Chatwood isn’t “hot” in the colloquial understanding of the term, he hasn’t pitched enough for that. Prior to Wednesday’s victorious effort, he hadn’t appeared in a game since July 14 against Pittsburgh and he hadn’t pitched in the 10 days prior to that outing either. Despite the inconsistent nature of his appearances, Chatwood deserves credit for his quality on Wednesday. After finding out that he was starting just earlier that morning, the right-hander pitched four innings and gave up only a single run.

Who’s not

  • It’s easy to pick on Cubs reliever Brad Brach. His results have been somewhere between bad and horrible this year and he gave up Sandoval’s walk-off home run on Tuesday night. It’s not just the results in a vacuum that are noteworthy for the struggling veteran, though. As pointed out by Cubs Insider EIC Evan Altman, Brach has turned into a harbinger of doom for the team. As of this writing, the team has lost 10 consecutive games in which he has appeared. Aren’t baseball players supposed to be superstitious? Shouldn’t he be like, switching to high socks or something?
  • Jon Lester ain’t feeling so hot. Because he’s got a cold! Har har har.

Bottom line

This is a bit of a good news, bad news situation.

The bad news, obviously, is that the Cubs lost this series. In doing so, they failed to alleviate fears about their ability to win on the road. After an off day, they’ll get another crack at that narrative in a critical three-game set against the Brewers in Milwaukee.

The good news? The Cubs only have one more trip to the state of California in the regular season, a September jaunt to San Diego to take on the Padres.

For now, it’s back to the Midwest. It’s not hyperbolic to suggest that the Cubs are entering the most important six-game stretch of the season to date. Losing a series to the Giants is disappointing, but a rebound against the Brewers could turn this road trip around faster than you can say “third-place Milwaukee Brewers.”

Best of all, you’ll be able to stay up for the games.

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