Giants 5, Cubs 0: Close Call

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

It's been almost two years since the Cubs came this close to being no-hit. Being shut out? Well... not since yesterday.

It was pointed out early in the game telecast by Len and JD that Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter, a little less than a year ago, in which he threw 148 pitches.

There has been only one no-hitter in major-league history where more pitches were thrown (at least, in the era for which reliable pitch counts are available, since about 1990). That one was thrown by Edwin Jackson for the Diamondbacks, June 25, 2010 -- 149, one more pitch than Lincecum threw in his.

Thus it was perhaps no surprise that these two pitchers held the hits and runs totals down (while throwing extremely large numbers of pitches) on a gorgeous afternoon in San Francisco. Jackson pitched quite well, actually, striking out nine, but getting in trouble in the sixth, and James Russell and Brian Schlitter couldn't keep the runners Jackson had allowed to reach base. The Giants scored two runs in that inning and then tacked on three more off Justin Grimm in the seventh and that was way more than enough for a 5-0 win over the Cubs, the second consecutive time the Cubs have been shut out. It's the seventh time the Cubs have been shut out this year (and the second time they were shut out back-to-back; it also happened against the Yankees in New York in April) and they now haven't scored in 20 consecutive innings. All three runs off Grimm were unearned after a scoring change gave an error to Mike Olt on what was originally ruled a hit by Buster Posey -- just two batters after Olt had made a really nice play on a bunt attempt by Angel Pagan.

But the bigger story is the no-hitter the Giants took into the seventh inning. Lincecum struggled with command through five, throwing 96 pitches (52, only a little more than half, for strikes) and issued four walks. With the game scoreless, Bruce Bochy pinch-hit for Lincecum with two out and nobody on in the bottom of the fifth. Reliever George Kontos retired the first four Cubs he faced, then with one out in the seventh, he walked Justin Ruggiano, who was batting for Chris Coghlan (go figure that one out, a righthanded PH for a lefthanded hitter against a RHP).

Then John Baker, who had only five hits all season coming into the game, singled to right to break up the no-no. That continued the @CubsNoHitStreak, which now stands at 7,714 consecutive games since Sandy Koufax' perfect game September 9, 1965. This game was the farthest anyone had taken a no-hitter against the Cubs since A.J. Burnett had one through two out in the eighth July 31, 2012. That's also the last time the Cubs were one-hit; Anthony Rizzo took care of the "one-hitter" thing with a single in the eighth.

I'll give Edwin Jackson credit today. He hung in there even when he was giving up hits, but he just ran out of gas, 99 pitches with one out in the sixth, a couple outs short of a quality start.

But the bottom line is: the Cubs aren't a good team and the Giants are. The Giants have the best record in the major leagues and the last two days, they showed us why. At 19-32, the Cubs stand two games worse than they were after 51 games a year ago, and 1½ games behind the Astros for the worst record in baseball.

The Cubs have Thursday off as they travel to Milwaukee to open a three-game weekend set with the Brewers. That doesn't usually end well, but maybe this time will be different. Travis Wood will face Marco Estrada in the series opener Friday night. But you can follow along with a game thread tomorrow right here -- the Iowa Cubs game against Memphis is scheduled to be televised on CBS Sports Network (check your cable/satellite listings) at 7 p.m. CT. We'll have a game thread posted here about an hour before game time, and plenty of other features during the day Thursday.

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