Cubs starter Jake Arrieta wasn’t that sharp today, but he was solid enough to hold the Giants to just two runs over six innings. But more importantly, he broke Giants starter Madison Bumgarner 24 inning scoreless streak in the postseason when he connected for a three-run home run in the second inning that gave the Cubs an early 3-0 lead.
Not only that, but it was the first time that Bumgarner had ever allowed a home run to an opposing pitcher in his career. Bumgarner has hit 14 homers off of opposing pitchers, so it was nice to see him on the other side of that equation for once.
Arrieta gave up a run in the third inning and a run in the fifth, both times the result of Denard Span getting an extra-base hit. Span hit a one-out double in the third and scored on a Buster Posey single. Posey was 1 for 15 against Arrieta in his career coming into this game. He got three hits off of Arrieta tonight.
The run in the fifth came when Span lined one into “Triples Alley” at AT&T Park for, you guessed it, a triple. The next batter up, Brandon Belt lined one to right field for a sacrifice fly.
After a 1-2-3 sixth inning by Arrieta (thanks to a great play by Javier Baez and a favorable replay call), manager Joe Maddon turned the game over to the Cubs bullpen. It worked out fine in the seventh inning as Pedro Strop and Travis Wood combined to retire the Giants in order. But Belt led off the eighth inning with a single. Hector Rondon then came on for Wood and walked Buster Posey on a low 3-2 pitch.
This is when Maddon decided to go with the big gun. Maddon called on Aroldis Chapman out of the pen. Chapman struck out Hunter Pence, but then Conor Gillaspie, the hero of the NL Wild Card Game, tripled in two runs on a ball that just missed Albert Almora’s glove. (It’s amazing, frankly, that Almora was even close to that ball.)
The triple (and maybe the crowd) seemed to rattle Chapman as he was ineffective the rest of the inning. He gave up an RBI single to Brandon Crawford, then walked Joe Panik. He was clearly all over the place. Justin Grimm relieved him and got the final two outs one one swing of the bat, thanks to an incredible diving catch by Albert Almora in right field. Almora was able to easily double up Belt at first base, who thought for sure that the deep drive would drop.
Then came the ninth. Dexter Fowler worked Giants closer Sergio Romo for an eight-pitch walk. That brought Kris Bryant to the plate as the tying run. He tied the game.
Mike Montgomery took over in the bottom of the ninth and honestly, he was terrific for four innings. Maddon only had one other available reliever, Carl Edwards Jr., whom he was presumably saving for a save or for when Montgomery couldn’t go anymore.
But when asked to come out for the bottom of the 13th, Montgomery didn’t have much left. He gave up back-to-back doubles to Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik and that ended the game.
So that’s only one game and the Cubs are still leading the best-of-five series two games to one. But the bigger issue is the way the Cubs big bats have gone silent. Most of the damage in this series has been done by the Cubs pitchers, while Anthony Rizzo has yet to get on base.
But it’s John Lackey against Matt Moore
tomorrow later today, which is probably the best matchup the Cubs have the entire series. And even if they lose there, the Cubs go home to Wrigley for game five.
There’s no need to panic over Joe Panik. Let’s just win later today.