SAN FRANCISCO -- Thank heavens for Mike Fontenot, or this might be a recap of another jaw-dropping loss.
The forgotten Fontenot, who has started only five games since July 1, smacked a pinch-hit, two-run double in the eighth inning, which gave the Cubs an 8-4 lead. Inexplicably, the Giants had a fairly long meeting on the mound as Fontenot stood ready to pinch-hit; a lefthander was warming up in their left-field bullpen. Had Bruce Bochy brought him in, Alan Trammell would certainly have made the reflexive move and sent Xavier Nady up to bat for Fontenot. That likely would have been a better matchup for the Giants.
The Cubs nearly needed every one of those runs in an 8-6 win over the Giants on a San Francisco night much more suited to NFL football than baseball. Hot chocolate vendors came by in the [Phone Holding Company] Park seats seemingly every two or three minutes and they did a brisk business. Maybe Carlos Marmol should have ordered one, because he was ice-cold (rather than his usual lights out) when brought into the game in a non-save situation.
As is sometimes the case with Marmol, he stubbornly stuck with his slider even when it was clear it wasn't working. Unfortunately, his fastball didn't work very well either; four of the first five Giants got hits in the ninth inning and when Pablo Sandoval scooted a ball up the middle, scoring Buster Posey, it brought the winning run to the plate, with a very small remnant of the 35,389 remaining in the house.
Fortunately, Marmol then bore down and struck out Juan Uribe and got Travis Ishikawa to ground to Micah Hoffpauir to end the game. That last event wasn't a no-brainer; either. I've kind of started at the end of the story, so follow me past the jump for the beginning.
Tim Lincecum has been a good pitcher this year, but not the Cy Young Award winner he's been the last two seasons. His WHIP is way up and so is his ERA; he's been hittable and the Cubs had fun with him in the very first inning. Kosuke Fukudome capped a four-run first inning by smacking the first pitch he saw for a two-run homer that took one bounce into McCovey Cove. This tweet from Carrie is interesting:
#Cubs Kosuke Fukudome is batting .415 (17-for-41) when putting 1st pitch in play, including 1st inning 2-run HR Tue nite
So why doesn't he do this more often? I realize Fukudome is generally a patient hitter and his ability to draw walks is useful, but maybe if he changed his approach somewhat, this might help him raise his batting average, too.
Anyway, the Cubs did their best to try to give the lead back with shoddy defense; Blake DeWitt booted what looked like a sure inning-ending DP ball in the first inning, leading to an unearned run. The Cubs eventually did get out of that inning with an actual double play, but Hoffpauir committed the Cubs' second error in the very next inning. That didn't lead to any more scoring, but the Giants had already put a run across in the second.
Thankfully, Ryan Dempster settled down after that, retiring 12 of 15 hitters from the third to the sixth innings, allowing only three harmless singles, as a mist began to fall over the ballpark. It's bizarre to think that you could be a player for the Giants, play in San Francisco all summer and it never, ever gets warm -- the players here must really look forward to day games, where you can at least stay warm in the sun. That is, when it's not foggy.
Anyway, the Cubs tacked on a pair of runs during that time and were leading 6-2 when Dempster left the game with two out in the seventh. Andrew Cashner gave up a long fly ball that should have ended that inning; Tyler Colvin chased it down... and then dropped it. The local official scorer charitably gave Buster Posey a double and two RBI; a major league center fielder has to make that play.
I note that in the game preview last night, the question was raised regarding why Koyie Hill would be starting with Welington Castillo called up. For one thing, Hoffpauir and Castillo missed a connecting flight in Minneapolis and arrived late; second, Castillo has never caught Dempster and you want him to just dive in there with no preparation? Castillo is expected to start tonight, but it wouldn't have been fair to him or the team to simply slot him in as a starter last night. Hill, for his part, had only his second two-hit game of the season and also scored twice.