SAN FRANCISCO — You know, I think James Norwood is going to be a very good major-league relief pitcher. He throws hard, touches 97 and 98 consistently, locates well, has some good offspeed stuff... but seriously, there isn’t a much more difficult situation for him to be put in than a tie game in extra innings on the road. He did well for an inning-plus, then ran out of gas and Buster Posey singled in the winning run in the 13th inning, and the Cubs lost to the Giants 5-4.
Really, this game could have been over long before that had Mike Montgomery been able to handle a comebacker with two out and a runner on first in the first inning, down 1-0. Instead, Brandon Crawford reached on an infield hit, and two hits later, the Giants had a 4-0 lead.
Obviously, that wasn’t optimal. But the Cubs started chipping away in the third inning, thanks to Jason Heyward [VIDEO].
That ball: Crushed!
Barrel: Jason Heyward (9) [CHC] off Johnny Cueto [SF]: 103.9 mph, 29 degrees (Home Run - 406 ft)— MLBExitVelocity (@MLBExitVelocity) July 11, 2018
So it’s 4-1, and Montgomery settled down and threw pretty well for the remainder of his outing.
Then Kris Bryant notified the baseball world that he was back [VIDEO] with Heyward on base in the fifth.
That ball: Also crushed!
Barrel: Kris Bryant (17) [CHC] off Johnny Cueto [SF]: 103.4 mph, 32 degrees (Home Run - 409 ft)— MLBExitVelocity (@MLBExitVelocity) July 11, 2018
Now it’s 4-3 and one inning later... tied, thanks to Javier Baez [VIDEO].
That ball: Crushed, part 3!
Barrel: Javier Báez (26) [CHC] off Tony Watson [SF]: 105.2 mph, 31 degrees (Home Run - 405 ft)— MLBExitVelocity (@MLBExitVelocity) July 11, 2018
Javy’s 18th knotted up the game... and there it stayed, and stayed, and stayed. There was some really nice work from Randy Rosario, Pedro Strop, Justin Wilson, Luke Farrell and Brandon Morrow, who combined for six shutout innings, allowing three hits and four walks, and striking out five. (Meanwhile, Giants hurlers were K’ing Cubs with abandon, as Cubs hitters struck out 16 times on the afternoon.)
When Farrell got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the ninth, on we went to extras for the second time in the series. And the Cubs really didn’t do much in any of the extra innings. A one-out walk to Bryant in the 11th and a leadoff walk by Tommy La Stella in the 13th were it as far as baserunners in extras.
But the Cubs staff was matching the Giants. Until the 13th, the Giants had a two-out walk in the 10th and one-out single in the 12th as their only baserunners.
And as noted, Norwood did a really good job, until he ran out of gas. It had to be nervous time making his major-league debut, and then he was asked to throw 35 pitches (or more, if he had gotten Posey out in the 13th, possibly). Norwood did have some longer outings this year at Iowa, last throwing as many as 35 pitches June 28, but his last outing was five days ago. I give him a lot of credit, he just couldn’t finish things off. I suspect the next guy on the mound for the Cubs if this game had gotten to the 14th was going to be Jon Lester, and then they’d have tried to figure out later who was going to start on Sunday.
One more note about Norwood:
James Norwood: first #Cubs pitcher to get a walkoff loss in MLB debut since Marcos Mateo 8/9/2010 - also at San Francisco— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 12, 2018
In general, I enjoy going to AT&T Park, where gameday staff is friendly and helpful and the sightlines are always good, as are the garlic fries. But a big razzberry has to go to whoever coordinates the postgame traffic. I parked in Lot A, which is just across McCovey Cove from the ballpark. It took me an hour and 15 minutes to go the approximately two miles to where I’m staying. Granted, it’s rush hour at the time the game ended (5:15), but still — they’ve got traffic patterns forcing you to go in the opposite direction from where you want to go, and multiple streets closed completely. Very poorly run, likely not the Giants’ fault, but the city of San Francisco’s. (This is why this recap was somewhat delayed. Rant over.)
Anyway, the Cubs will enjoy a well-deserved off day Thursday after packing 33 innings of baseball into about a 46-hour time frame, and then try to right the ship in San Diego. At this writing the Brewers and Marlins are tied 4-4 in the eighth, so if the Marlins can come back (they were leading early) and win, the N.L. Central standings will remain the same, with the Cubs 1½ games behind the Brewers. Go Marlins!
Maybe this is a good sign:
Last 2 #Cubs games of at least 13 innings at San Francisco— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 12, 2018
Today: Game started by Mike Montgomery
2016 NLDS Game 3: Walkoff 2B allowed by Mike Montgomery (13th inning)
The Cubs did pretty well after 2016 NLDS Game 3.
Friday, the Cubs are going to send Tyler Chatwood out there again, to start against our old friend Clayton Richard. Game time Friday is 9:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on NBC Sports Chicago.