First, before I write anything about the Cubs' 8-3 loss to the Giants Wednesday evening, I want to note that the news of the Giants' protest of Tuesday's game being upheld broke a little more than half an hour before game time Wednesday, while I was at Wrigley Field. Thanks to Josh for posting a front-page article on the story; I will have more thoughts on this topic later this morning, as well as a game-thread schedule.
Now, on to yet another horrific outing from Edwin Jackson. In Wednesday's game preview I wrote, of Jackson:
Edwin Jackson is the worst starting pitcher in baseball and it's not close. He pitches at an agonizingly slow pace. He doesn't seem to have any sort of game plan when he goes to the mound.
Now that didn't mince words and didn't sound too kind, and unfortunately, it turned out to be true. Jackson went to the mound Wednesday evening and immediately got hit, and hit hard. Four of the first six batters he faced got hits, he walked another, and the sixth (Pablo Sandoval) hit a sacrifice fly; the Giants batted around. Somehow, he managed a 1-2-3 second inning but it got worse in the third. Four of the first five hitters pounded the ball, including the first major-league home run for Giants backup catcher Andrew Susac, who's in the big leagues only due to an injury to regular backup Hector Sanchez.
Jackson left the mound to loud boos. We've talked about booing here and how it is in some ways unfair to home-team players -- I'm generally in favor of it only for lack of effort -- but this time, it seemed the only way for fans at the park to register their extreme displeasure with Jackson's performance.
Jackson's ERA ended this awful outing at 6.09. He's thrown 139 innings, enough to qualify for the ERA
leaders trailers list. No pitcher has finished a season with enough innings to qualify and an ERA over 6.00 since 2008, when Livan Hernandez, Brandon Backe and Nate Robertson did it. Excluding the strike season of 1994, only 20 starting pitchers have had a qualified season with an ERA over 6.00 since 1980.
He's bad. The money is a sunk cost. Virtually anyone from the farm system -- including Chris Rusin, for example, or in reality just about anyone they could drag off the waiver wier -- could do the same or better for minimal additional dollars. Just release him.
The two best tweets I saw from the early innings Wednesday:
Breaking: Giants file protest with MLB, ask to let them face Edwin Jackson every game.— Cubs No-Hit Streak (@CubsNoHitStreak) August 21, 2014
All you can do is laugh at this point. Honestly just eat the money & send him to some other country.— Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) August 21, 2014
Given the fact that it was Star Wars night at Wrigley Field and there were people dressed up as storm troopers and other Star Wars characters wandering around the ballpark, the Cubs could have sent Edwin back with them, to the Death Star or some planet far, far away.
The Cubs actually got to within 4-2, shouting distance, in the second inning when Chris Valaika hit his first Cubs home run (Cubs personnel came to the bleachers to get the ball for him) following a Luis Valbuena triple. Jackson took care of that "shouting distance" in the third, of course. Valbuena had an excellent hitting night, adding a single and a home run to the triple, and his other at-bat was a hard-hit line drive to first base. "A double short of the cycle" is much, much rarer than "a triple short of the cycle," which a lot of writers like to note when a hitter does the latter. Example: this season a player has had at least one single, one double and one home run in the same game 160 times -- but at least one single, one triple and one home run just 11 times, including Valbuena's Wednesday game. Valbuena had been moved up to the cleanup spot because Starlin Castro was excused due to a family emergency. Here are some details on that:
Source Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro may miss up to a week dealing with the death of a relative &three friends in car crash (Dominican )— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) August 21, 2014
Bereavement list possible for Cub shortstop Starlin Castro— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) August 21, 2014
Carlos Villanueva kept the game close with 3⅓ innings of good relief, allowing two hits, one of them a homer by Hunter Pence that completed the Giants scoring. Personally, since his batting-order spot wasn't scheduled to come up for another inning, I'd have left Villanueva in to throw one more frame. He threw just 56 pitches (34 strikes) and the Cubs are going to need a rested pen for Thursday's game-and-a-half. Wesley Wright threw a scoreless inning and Kyuji Fujikawa finished up with two scoreless innings, though both Wright and Fujikawa allowed two hits.
I suppose the best thing that can be said about this one is that it didn't rain. The infield dirt still showed signs of all the Turface that was dropped there -- over 300 bags' worth, I heard -- and seemed a bit slow and muddy for most of the evening. That isn't likely to change during Thursday's baseball as there's an 80 percent chance of more storms pretty much all afternoon and evening Thursday. That could make for an interesting day, especially since it's getaway day for the Giants (they're going to Washington) and the Cubs have an afternoon affair with the Orioles Friday.
MLB quickly adjusted the standings to reflect that the Cubs began the day at 54-70 instead of 55-70, which they would have been if Tuesday's game hadn't been suspended. The Giants have yet to announce who'll take the mound at 4:05 CT to face the pitcher's spot in the Cubs lineup. Tsuyoshi Wada, who would have had a 5-inning complete-game shutout had the result stood, will instead depart for a pinch-hitter and the Cubs have already said that Jacob Turner will pitch starting the sixth inning. It'd be nice if he could finish the shutout.
For the regular game, which will likely start at 7:05 unless rain or extra innings slow things down, Travis Wood will face Madison Bumgarner.
Again, a bit later this morning I'll have more on the upheld protest and suspended games.