MESA, Arizona -- Form yourself a mental picture of what it might look like and feel like if, and when, the Cubs ever win two World Series in three seasons.
No, I'm not delusional. It could happen, so they say. It has happened for the San Francisco Giants, and their fans were out in force at HoHoKam Monday afternoon. At least half the crowd was wearing Giants orange and black -- many of them decked out in World Series merchandise -- and their team came through for them, crushing the Cubs 9-3 and ending the North Siders' four-game winning streak. The announced attendance of 13,374 was the third-largest in HoHoKam history, and brought the season total to 124,358, an average of 8,291 per date. (This size crowd will not be repeated Tuesday night when the Reds come to Mesa; plenty of tickets remain.)
Travis Wood was all over the place Monday; he issued four walks (including walking the opposing pitcher, Ryan Vogelsong, twice), and when he wasn't giving up walks, the Giants hitters were pounding the ball all over the yard. He wound up allowing four runs in his four innings, but when Dioner Navarro smacked a two-run homer in the sixth off Vogelsong, the Cubs cut the deficit to 5-3 and I thought, hmmm, maybe they can get back in this game.
Cory Wade, unfortunately, did not do himself any favors in his attempt to be the last man in the bullpen. Wade threw one good inning (the sixth) and then fell apart in the seventh, though, to be fair, a throwing error by Brent Lillibridge helped lead to two of Wade's four runs allowed in that inning being unearned. Lillibridge made another error earlier in the game; his versatility is one reason he's on this roster, but let's hope he doesn't have to play shortstop too often.
There were some good things that happened after the Giants' four-run outburst in the seventh inning of a very draggy game put it away: Shawn Camp struck out the side in the eighth (granted, two of the three Giants he faced have zero chance of making their roster), and Hector Rondon had a scoreless ninth inning. Joe Panik, the Giants' No. 1 pick in 2011, batted with two out in that ninth inning and decided to try to bunt for a hit. I suppose he was trying to impress his manager, but really? Bunting with two out in the ninth with a six-run lead in a spring-training game? That probably wasn't well-received in the Cubs clubhouse.
Apart from Navarro's home run, the Cubs offense was pretty moribund on a beautiful afternoon. David DeJesus hit a double and drove in a run; Scott Hairston hit a pinch-double, and Shawon Dunston Jr., over from the minor-league camp again, worked a full count before singling up the middle of Giants closer Sergio Romo. Dunston, unlike his dad, hits lefthanded. It would be nice to think he has more plate discipline than his dad, too. He seems likely to play this year at Kane County.
So the Giants fans, many of whom spent the afternoon heckling Alfonso Soriano (who never once reacted), left happy with their spring-training win. One day we'll have World Series merchandise to wear with Cubs logos, like those fans did. Or at least, that's what we keep hoping.
Remember, Tuesday's affair against the Reds is a night game, the first night game at Mesa since 2005, with a late-night time in Chicago of 9:05 p.m. CT. It's a matchup of staff aces, as Jeff Samardzija will go against Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto. No TV for Tuesday's game; it'll be webcast on cubs.com.