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Cubs 5, Giants 3: Battle of the long ball

The Cubs outhomered the Giants and won the game, their third straight victory.

Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images

Just yesterday, BCB’s Sara Sanchez posted an article here about the home-run explosion in MLB this season. There are likely going to be at least 1,000 more home runs hit in baseball this year than last.

That’s a concern, to be sure, for the game’s future. In the meantime, the Cubs took advantage of the long-ball surge, hitting three of them on their way to a 5-3 win over the Giants in the first game of a six-game homestand. It was the 27th time this year the Cubs have hit at least three home runs in a game, almost 22 percent of their total games. Interestingly, just 10 of those three-homer games have been at Wrigley Field, the other 17 on the road.

Just as he had done Sunday in Williamsport, Nicholas Castellanos began the home-run parade [VIDEO].

That might be a first. I don’t recall any opposing outfielder ever trying to literally climb up the ivy to catch a potential home run.

Castellanos is hitting home runs at a much higher rate than he did in Detroit:

Silly stat of the day:

One out after Castellanos’ homer, Anthony Rizzo gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead [VIDEO].

Check out the launch angle and height on that one!

Cole Hamels breezed through the first, then issued a leadoff walk in the second. One out later, Austin Slater tied the game with a two-run homer.

Rizzo untied it in the third [VIDEO].

For Rizzo, that was his 25th of the season:

Rizzo seems right on pace to have one of those 32-homer, 101-RBI seasons that appeared to be his specialty from about 2014-17. (Actually, he never specifically had a 32-HR, 101-RBI season. He had two 32-HR seasons and two 31-HR seasons in that span and has driven in 101 twice and 109 twice.)

Hamels, though, gave up another long ball, this one to Kevin Pillar in the fourth and the game was once again tied.

That’s when the Cubs began playing small ball. Rizzo singled to lead off the fifth and Javier Baez appeared to hit into a double play [VIDEO].

Rizzo seemed confused about whether the ball had been caught or not and headed back to first. That might have screened first-base umpire Carlos Torres from the call, which was quickly reversed. That turned out to be important. Kyle Schwarber then walked and Jonathan Lucroy was the next hitter [VIDEO].

Lucroy’s RBI single off Brandon Belt’s glove scored Javy, who, as usual, never hesitated in rounding third base.

Hamels left the game for a pinch-hitter in the sixth having allowed three runs on five hits. He struck out five and his only real mistakes were the two homers. It was a solid if unspectacular outing.

Two random notes about Hamels’ outing:

  • Bruce Bochy sent Madison Bumgarner up to bat for his starter Tyler Beede in the fifth, likely not wanting to burn a position player that early. Historically, Bumgarner has been a decent hitter, but not this year (7-for-51 with 32 strikeouts entering the game). Hamels walked him. Fortunately, the walk did not hurt the Cubs as Hamels eventually got out of the inning.
  • Buster Posey came into the game 13-for-24 (.542) lifetime vs. Hamels with six extra-base hits. Hamels retired Posey all three times he faced him.

Kyle Ryan threw a scoreless seventh, allowing just a two-out single, although the final out of the inning went a long way:

The Cubs added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. Rizzo led off with a walk, and one out later Schwarber doubled him to third. Lucroy was given a Manfred and Tony Kemp then gave the Cubs a two-run lead [VIDEO].

Rowan Wick, who has quickly become the Cubs’ most reliable setup man, threw a 1-2-3 eighth on just 13 pitches, and after the Cubs also went 1-2-3 in that inning, Craig Kimbrel entered for a save chance.

The Kimbrel we saw Tuesday evening was the one the Cubs paid for. He was throwing 97-98 and though he only struck out one Giants hitter, he was clearly dominating not only with that fastball, but with some devastating curveballs. After the strikeout, two fly balls to center ended the game and Kimbrel had his 10th save of the season, a fine way to begin the homestand.

A note about Castellanos, who has completely embraced being a Chicago Cub:

All of us who attend games at Wrigley Field know how special a place it is and we can tell how much players enjoy being part of that atmosphere. It’s really too early to say “sign Castellanos now!” but doing that is certainly going to be part of the offseason conversation.

Lastly, here are about four minutes worth of Joe Maddon’s postgame comments [VIDEO].

The Cardinals crushed the Brewers 9-4 Tuesday, so the Cubs remain half a game behind St. Louis in second place in the N.L. Central. Meanwhile, Milwaukee fell to four games out and the Brewers are looking less and less like a postseason team with each passing day.

The Cubs will go for the series win Wednesday evening at Wrigley Field. Yu Darvish will start for the Cubs and Dereck Rodriguez will go for the Giants. Game time is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago.