In case you were wondering how the mostly no-name Giants came to Wrigley Field 40 games over .500 and with the most wins in the major leagues, they put on a demonstration at the ol’ ballyard of exactly how they’ve accomplished this: Pitching, defense and home runs.
The Cubs managed to hang with the Giants for six innings on a gorgeous Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field. After that the soft underbelly of the Cubs bullpen entered the game and that, as they say, was that, a 6-1 Giants win.
Kyle Hendricks got into a bit of trouble in the first inning but worked his way out of it. From the second through the fifth, though, he was vintage Kyle: ground ball outs and strikeouts on changeups. He allowed just one baserunner in those four innings, a two-out walk to Brandon Belt in the second.
The Cubs couldn’t touch some miscellaneous Giants relievers through three, as San Francisco made Friday a bullpen day.
In the fourth, Frank Schwindel led off against Jarlin Garcia [VIDEO].
1-0 Cubs on Schwindel’s 12th of the year (11th as a Cub). Could it possibly stand?
Nope. Hendricks was touched up for one run in the sixth, on a double by Belt and single by LaMont Wade Jr. So the game’s tied heading to the seventh, and Hendricks was removed for a pinch hitter after throwing 104 pitches (67 strikes). Nothing came out of that PH at-bat.
Could the Cubs pen keep the team in the game?
You already know the answer. Trevor Megill relieved Hendricks and was pounded. Eleven pitches into his appearance, San Francisco had a 3-1 lead on a single by Brandon Crawford and home run by Evan Longoria. After another single and a walk, Megill was removed for Michael Rucker, who did induce a 1-2-3 double play, but then served up the second home run ball of the inning to Belt.
At 3-1 maybe the Cubs have a chance. At 5-1... nope. The two homers gave the Giants 210 for the season, at this writing one behind the Braves for the NL lead. (The Cubs are fifth with 186.)
You can see that the new-look Cubs bullpen has some guys a manager could put in his “circle of trust,” as Joe Maddon used to call it. Megill and Rucker aren’t those guys.
The Cubs did try to get back in the game. Willson Contreras drew a leadoff walk in the seventh and then the Giants pulled off this slick double play [VIDEO].
You see why the Giants gave Crawford a two-year, $32 million contract extension, even though he’s 34. He’s the best shortstop in the National League.
One more Giants run was scored off Rucker in the eighth, and no further scoring happened.
Oh, you want to know about the welcome back to Wrigley for Kris Bryant. The Cubs showed this video on the boards before the game:
And, as has become traditional, Bryant was given a “17” Wrigley scoreboard panel, and he saluted Cubs fans:
His day at the plate was uneventful — 0-for-3 with a walk — and he handled four chances in left field. He made this nice gesture to the Cubs gameday staff [VIDEO].
Bryant is likely moved on for good, I can’t see the Cubs signing him, though I’d never say never. He will forever be a World Series champion Cub. I spotted this Cubs fan in the bleachers who sprung for a Bryant Giants jersey:
It will not get any easier to defeat the Giants in the second game of this series, as their best pitcher, Kevin Gausman, is scheduled to start. Zach Davies will start for the Cubs. Game time Saturday is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and also on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Giants market territories).