The Cubs' sweep of the Giants in Chicago two weeks ago was quite unexpected and it began a nine-game winning streak. Since the Giants left Wrigley, they are 7-6, which includes a four-game sweep of the Nationals in San Francisco. After that, the Giants lost two of three to the Cardinals and three of four to the Pirates, all on the road.
What does that mean? I wrote earlier this year that the Giants have been a very streaky team. Much of the streakiness has to do with having Hunter Pence in their lineup. Pence has been injured twice this year, and has started just 51 games. The Giants are 34-17 with Pence in the starting lineup, 32-41 without.
Obviously, one player isn't going to make the difference for an entire team and the Giants still have a good lineup and at least one dominant starting pitcher. They are, however, 2-12 against the Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates, and the Cubs have the best road record in the National League, 33-25. Given the pitching matchups below I'd be disappointed if the Cubs don't win this series.
Tuesday: Jake Arrieta (15-6, 2.30 ERA, 0.988 WHIP, 2.63 FIP) vs. Matt Cain (2-3, 5.66 ERA, 1.531 WHIP, 5.30 FIP)
Wednesday: Kyle Hendricks (6-5, 4.03 ERA, 1.225 WHIP, 3.45 FIP) vs. Jake Peavy (3-6, 4.35 ERA, 1.290 WHIP, 4.03 FIP)
Thursday: Dan Haren (8-8, 3.76 ERA, 1.139 WHIP, 4.88 FIP) vs. Madison Bumgarner (15-6, 3.02 ERA, 1.037 WHIP, 2.85 FIP)
It's a good thing that Jake Arrieta is opening up this series; that gives the Cubs a very good chance to start this trip on a high note. He threw 7⅔ shutout innings against the Giants on August 9. Kyle Hendricks wasn't quite as good, but fortunately, on that day the Cubs hit Matt Cain pretty hard (and Cain got hit hard by the Nats in his start after that). It will be difficult to defeat Madison Bumgarner no matter who's pitching for the Cubs, and he's just as good in day games (which Thursday's game will be) as in night games.
The Giants are good. So are the Cubs. Two out of three, and I'll take that on any West Coast trip.
The Cubs head to Los Angeles for a three-game series against the Dodgers beginning Friday night.