It's nice to be able to report on a Giant's win. It's a good thing, too, because my negativity regarding this team would probably alienate the few readers that we have. When Mark posts "the Giants are a good team" or Jon describes the Giants as a "damn good team" I want to scream. The Giants are still the worst team since the All Star Break. Under what definition are they good? The hardest thing is that I cannot for the life of me figure out why they are so lousy. I can, of course, figure out why they lose any given game, but cannot figure out why they lost so many games for the last month and a half. At least today was a victory, 3 - 2.
It looked to be a beautiful day at Piggly Wiggly Field in Chicago today, sunny and comfortable unlike San Francisco, which has had the foggiest summer since 1942. Baseball weather. The kind of day to settle back and watch two of the game's best face off. Madison Bumgarner against Jake Arrieta. The Giants needed a win, desperately. At this point, you could probably say that every day. And that is what it has come to - a team with the best record in baseball at one time now has their backs against the wall and the only thing to blame is themselves. You knew going in that Madbum would have to be better than good, better than usual even to beat Arrieta. Good thing he was.
The Giants struck first. In the 1st inning, Angel Pagan doubled and scored on a throwing error to first. In the 4th, the Giants added one. Joe Panik singled with 2 outs, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a passed ball as Belt walked. Panik scored on a Nunez single. Arrieta makes it tough on his catcher with a lot of sharp downward movement towards the dirt. Today, that was crucial in the Giants' victory. The Cubs got a run in the 5th when Baez singled and stole second. Arrieta hit a dribbler? bunt? to Nunez, who charged the ball but couldn't pick it up. In fact, he couldn't even grab it. Baez kept on going and scored because there was no one else there. That goes as a hit and an earned run on Madbum's record, but it shouldn't.
The match-up of aces continued. Both the Giants, and the Cubs once the 5th inning rolled around had long at-bats. It got very interesting in the 6th. Brandon Crawford singled with 1 out. With the shift on, he stole second because there was no one there as Joe Panik struck out. Then, with Arrieta holding the ball and Baez playing third way over in the shortstop's hole, Brandon went to third. Why not, there was no one to hold Brandon on second to at third. By the time he noticed, Arrieta couldn't even get a throw off. Then, with the defensive shift still on so that Brandon could take a huge lead, another Arrieta wild pitch in the dirt allowed him to score. Giants 3, Cubs 1.
In the Cubs half of the inning, Zobrist scored on a foul ball out that turned into a sac fly. At the end of 6, both Arrieta and Madbum were done. Both threw 103 pitches and 6 full innings. Arrieta struck out 7, walked 2 and gave up 4 hits (all the Giants hits for the day). Madbum gave up 5 hits, walked no one and struck out 10. He gave up the 2 runs, but like I mentioned, it should be 1 earned. 5 relievers managed to keep the Cubs scoreless for 3 innings, although there was some scary stuff along the way.
So a victory is good. Maybe the Giants can put on a little run. Maybe string together a couple wins. They have done that exactly 3 times since July 15; against Washington, against the Mets, and back to back against LA and Atlanta. They have not won 3 in a row, but they have actually played .500 ball in their last 10 games. Johnny Cueto goes tomorrow, he has seen a lot of the Cubs (and they of him). Baseball is very much a game of what-have-you-done-for-me-lately. A few wins would improve my mood considerably. As will the wine tasting that I am headed for right now.