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Giants 5, Cubs 3: Home Runs And Strikeouts

There were some of both things in the headline for the Cubs in this game -- unfortunately, too many of the latter.

Brian Kersey

"Back in the day" teams used to wait only 20 to 25 minutes between games of a single-admission doubleheader.

This game-and-a-half evening wasn't really a "doubleheader," and for some reason the Cubs decided that 40 minutes would be the interregnum between the completion of the protested/suspended game and the start of Thursday night's regularly-scheduled contest, which got underway 55 minutes later than its official time of 7:05 p.m., not bad considering rain had fallen for nearly two hours before the resumption of Tuesday night's affair.

The Cubs, who had been listless during the resumption, came out with bats ready, willing and able after Travis Wood had been touched up for a single run in the top of the first (and got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam that could have resulted in even more runs).

Justin Ruggiano smacked a two-out, opposite-field homer to right field with Arismendy Alcantara on base. The smallish crowd, still straggling in despite the later-than-usual hour, had barely sat down when Welington Castillo hit one just to my right, inside the foul pole, across Waveland Avenue for his 10th home run of the season.

3-1 lead in the first! Great, right?

Not so great, although I'll point out that before this series, the Cubs had not hit a home run in the first inning all season. Now, with these two and Anthony Rizzo's homer from the suspended game, they have three.

It wasn't enough as the Giants chipped away with single runs in the third, fourth and fifth off Wood, who had an "Edwin Jackson outing" -- six innings, four runs. They added one more off Justin Grimm in the seventh and won the game 5-3 and the rain-soaked series, as well as the season series between the two clubs.

Madison Bumgarner, who works agonizingly slowly when there are runners on base, shut the Cubs down with just four more singles through his seven innings of work. He struck out 12, including striking out the side in consecutive innings, the fifth and sixth. Adding in the three K's from Giants relievers, the Cubs struck out 15 times in Thursday's regular game, with Javier Baez wearing the infamous golden sombrero (four K's in a game) for the third time in his big-league career.

It's the 11th time in 20 August games the Cubs have had double-figure strikeouts (and four other times they had nine). K's aren't the worst thing in the world -- better than hitting into a double play, for example -- but I don't think Theo & Co. want this from their young team going forward. The team record for strikeouts by batters in a season is 1,269, set in 2002. The Cubs, at their current pace, could come very close to breaking that mark by the end of the month -- they're at 1,127 with 10 games remaining in August.

They're not the only ones, either; strikeouts are up across the board. 12 teams have already struck out more than 1,000 times this year (the Cubs are second; the Marlins are slightly ahead of them). The major-league record is 1,535, set by last year's Astros; the National League mark is 1,529, set by the Diamondbacks in 2010.

Anyway, back to the actual playing of this game. The Cubs had the tying runs in scoring position in the seventh inning, with Bumgarner trying to close out the frame and Baez at bat. Bumgarner struck him out. Baez was also on deck -- with, unbelievably, yet more light rain falling -- when Arismendy Alcantara struck out to end the game. Now that would have been an at-bat for the ages, had Alcantara been able to reach base. Chris Coghlan was on first base with a two-out single. How far do you think Baez would have tried to hit the ball if he'd been the winning run standing at the plate? Milwaukee? Mars?

Someday, perhaps we'll get the chance to find out. And maybe someday, he'll hit a walkoff homer or two. For now, that's left for us to dream.

Note: I had not thought, since this wasn't an actual "doubleheader," that the 26th-man recall rule didn't apply. That was incorrect -- the Cubs were permitted an extra man (not sure if the Giants recalled anyone), and Blake Parker, who's probably flown more from Des Moines to Chicago than any other human being has in a single year, was added to the roster for this game. He threw a scoreless ninth inning, helped by Castillo throwing out Angel Pagan trying to steal.

One final note on the Giants, who headed to Washington after the gaem for a three-game series against the Nationals which begins tonight. Here's the Washington-area forecast for tonight:

A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Cloudy, with a low around 71. Calm wind becoming east 5 to 8 mph in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Well, I can't resist. Ha, ha. Suck it, Giants. Hope you get rain-delayed again. Maybe you'd like to file your protest now, in advance, just to avoid the rush.

Meanwhile, the Cubs will take the hopefully less-soggy field at Wrigley Friday afternoon as the final Wrigley Field interleague series of 2014 begins against the Orioles. Former Oriole Jake Arrieta will pitch against Kevin Gausman.