Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs right fielder David DeJesus is congratulated for hitting a two-run home run by second baseman Darwin Barney at Wrigley Field. Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE
The biggest story of the day, really, is the fact that it didn't rain -- or, at least, not very hard; the remnants of Hurricane Isaac were supposed to hit the Chicago area Saturday and delay, or possibly postpone, Saturday's game -- but instead, the heavier rain never made it to the North Side, just sprinkling for a couple of innings.
It might as well have rained all day, as far as the Cubs were concerned. Justin Germano retired the first two hitters he faced, and then five straight Giants reached base, four of them scoring. That alone would have been enough, as the Giants evened the series with a 5-2 win over the Cubs. I saw some comments in other threads here that noted Welington Castillo again had trouble framing pitches in that inning and that might have led to Germano getting rattled. If this is still an issue, Castillo has to be sent to winter ball or instructional league or somewhere to improve his framing and pitch-calling. He can definitely hit at the major-league level, but if he can't do those other things, he can't be an everyday catcher.
The Giants increased their lead to 5-0 in the second inning on a triple by Angel Pagan and a sacrifice fly; after that, Germano and three Cubs relievers allowed just four hits and a couple of walks. But with the Cubs' mostly impotent offense, that didn't matter. It never really did feel as if the Cubs could ever get back into the game.
David DeJesus provided the only Cubs runs of the game; after a walk to Darwin Barney and a Germano sacrifice, DeJesus hit his seventh home run of the season. After that, Tim Lincecum and four Giants relievers held the Cubs to an Anthony Rizzo double, a pinch-single by Joe Mather, and a pair of walks.
You might not believe that all that took three hours and nine minutes, but somehow these two teams dragged out a game that felt like it should have taken an hour less.
Lincecum, for his part, had one of his better outings of the season -- although, consider the mostly impotent offense he was facing. He allowed just four hits and struck out seven. Since the All-Star break, Lincecum has a 3.26 ERA in 10 starts covering 60⅔ innings, with 61 strikeouts. If he keeps pitching that way, the Giants will be tough to beat in the postseason. Beyond Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and Sunday's scheduled starter, Matt Cain, have been very good and the San Francisco bullpen has posted a league-high 45 saves in 58 chances (second-highest save percentage in the NL).
None of that was lost on the thousands of orange-clad Giants fans who cheered every move of their heroes and put together a loud "Let's go, Giants!" chant in the ninth inning. If not for them, Wrigley Field would have been pretty empty Saturday.
The loss, the Cubs' 81st of the season, means just one more clinches the team's third straight losing season, not that there's been much doubt of that happening for quite some time. If the Reds win their game Saturday night at Houston, the Cubs will be officially mathematically eliminated from the NL Central race, not there's been any doubt of that happening, either.
The Cubs and Giants wrap up their season series Sunday, when more rain is expected. What a year, huh?