Game 124: Cubs 5 – Giants 1
Cubs 64-60, 0.0/-2.0
Giants 55-71, -15.5/-12.0
POTG: LF Cliff Floyd (H, 2 RBI)
Runner Up: SS Ryan Theriot (2B, R), C Jason Kendall (2 H, 2 R, BB), SP Jason Marquis (7 IP, 3 H, R, 5 BB, 5 K)
The Cubs were speeding to a quick loss, and that’s all there was to it. They had gotten nothing on Lincecum all game, just the two hits and a walk in the 8th. The game seemed over…and then about 60 seconds later, it was a tie game, Ramirez up, and Lincecum out of the game. I’m sure most people gave up, being a West Coast game with no signs of life for 8 innings, but that 9th inning was something to see. The speed of how things changed was amazing in itself, from having no hope to start the inning to being confident Floyd was going to get the runner home (though I wasn’t sure how.) It was as big a momentum shift as I’ve seen.
One of the reasons I didn’t believe the Cubs were coming back for this one is the strategy they used at the plate all game. The scouting report had to push the hitters towards swinging early in the count, because even the supremely patient guys on the team were hacking away as if it was getaway day before the All Star Break. Cliff is player of the game deservingly so, but you don’t often have good nights when you see all of 7 pitches in 4 at bats. Theriot is one of the more patient guys, and he only saw 9 all night. Team average was just over 3 pitches per at bat, way too low. The strategy seemed completely flawed for eight innings. It worked in the 9th, but I think only because Lincecum hit the wall quick and they couldn’t yank him out in time.
Once again, Marquis kept the Cubs in this one when it looked like he might explode. Brenley was pretty certain Jason didn’t get a good feel of the mound in the first inning, and that makes as much sense as any to explain the near disaster there. There was some good pitching after by Jason to keep himself out of further trouble, most of all escaping Visquel on third with one out in the 7th without giving up any more runs. The key appears to be his ground ball rate; I can’t find a good way to look this up, but 13 ground ball outs to 3 fly ball outs has to be one of his more one-sided outings. Keeping the ball down is keeping it out of the park.
Hill vs Zito is tonight’s matchup. I hope you like curveballs! With Thursday’s game in the day, I wonder if we’ll get Kendall here, and Blanco back with Z for his first game back. I think it makes more sense the other way.