Say Goodbye to California (Mercifully)
It’s 10:30 AM cst on Wednesday as I begin this post. I’m going to take a stab at predicting what will happen in about four hours as the Cubs face Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in the rubber game of the three game series. According to www.baseball-reference.com, this will be Bumgarner’s 13th start against the Cubs in his career and he has performed as expected against them in the past (and even better when the games are in SF). With this said, I say that MadBum goes 7 innings and strikes out ten while giving up two runs (one unearned).
Jon Jay has a .379 batting average against Bumgarner so I would anticipate he will be the catalyst for the Cub offense. Other guys with decent stats include Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant, and Willson Contreras (small sample size). Obviously for the Cubs to win this game some where around 3-2, they are going to have to play great defense and scratch out a run against the bullpen. Unfortunately I don’t see that happening, and I’m predicting that the Giants win 4-2. I’ll be back in a few hours to see how accurate my predictions were and if I can be pleasantly surprised.
I’m back and going to do some “live” blogging to capture some of my thoughts in real-time. First thing that I notice is that my prediction of Jay as the catalyst probably won’t happen since he isn’t in the lineup. I guess I wouldn’t be a good manager since I look at stats and stuff. Hanging Schwarber out to dry as a hitter vs. Bumgarner makes me want to increase my strikeout prediction to 12. Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward also get the day off (or at least don’t have to face Bumgarner).
I’m watching the Cubs feed with the sound off so that Len doesn’t pollute my head with random thoughts. If I miss any earth-shattering banter (like why Jay isn’t playing) please update me in the comments section.
Zobrist with a leadoff hit followed up by a one out hit from Bryant brings Contreras up with a chance to make my prediction paragraph come true early. Unfortunately Willson chased a high fastball to strike out and Ian Happ followed suit with a strikeout. Kyle Hendricks to take the hill and it already feels like the Cubs are chasing a run. Hendricks looks sharp and strikes out two as well.
Hendricks gets too much of the plate in the bottom of the 2nd with two out and the Giants grab a 1-0 lead with back-to-back singles. Madison “Babe Ruth” Bumgardner, strikes out to end the threat.
Does anyone else want to smack Mark Wahlberg in the head for the stupid AT&T commercial that appears EVERY half inning? I get that you have four kids and need to make that bank (a rumored $10MM) but shouldn’t the Funky Bunch still be paying you enough royalties that you don’t have to scrape by with commercials?
Albert! Almora hits a laser beam into the left field stands to tie the game (maybe if Jay was batting leadoff it would be a two run homer).
Oh goody, there’s Wahlberg again. Did you guys know about his nefarious past? You can read about it at Wiki.
Leadoff walk to Denard Span and he steals second against Alex Avila. Avila looks like he has a more accurate arm than Miguel Montero, but he is slow to get out of his stance and into a throwing position. Like the previous inning, two men reach base but Hendricks works out of it.
The bottom of the lineup threatens to get to Hendricks again as the first two get on in the bottom of the fourth. Mike Montgomery starts to warm. A Chris Bosio visit proves effective and Hendricks gets out of the inning unscathed.
The fifth inning is here and it’s a pretty good pitching duel (as predicted).
whimper The Cubs went down in the fifth without a whimper. Hendricks got the first two outs and then allowed a seeing-eye single to Buster Posey. Since it’s Hendricks, Joe Maddon had the quick hook and in comes Montgomery. I thought Hendricks threw really well and I would have given him another batter. All this does is give me a bonus chance to see my buddy Wahlberg. Monty gets Pablo Sandoval to foul out to Contreras (who is playing first base today by the way).
Another hit for Almora to start the sixth, let’s see if the Cubs can capitalize. With one out, Contreras gave the ball a ride to deep right but Hunter Pence runs it down. Happ then grounds out on the first pitch to end the threat. Although it’s still tied, it feels like the Cubs are chasing a run again. Pence leads off the bottom half of the inning.
I’ve always liked Pence. There was a player on my daughter’s softball team that had many of his mannerisms as a 13 year old, I liked calling her Hunter. This was back when the Giants were winning World Series so it was definitely a compliment. Pence draws a walk and trouble is brewing. No trouble here. A fly ball followed by a double play grounder and we’re headed to the 7th still tied at 1-1.
Schwarber beats out an infield hit against the shift bringing up Jon Jay! Stats show that he is hitting .379 as a pinch hitter this year, the exact same as his career average against Bumgarner – the perfect storm! Well, that was anticlimactic. Ground ball to second on the first pitch, my day is ruined.
Since Jay let me down, Monty is out and Brian Duensing is in the game. Let’s hope he continues his strong streak. A ground ball that gets by Happ and a bloop that drops in shallow right and the Giants have two men on again. Another weak dribbler through the left side against the shift and the Cubs trail 2-1. Here comes Pedro Strop to try to contain this mess. One pitch, two outs. Great job by Strop getting the double play grounder.
A couple left-handed “weapons” on the bench still as Bumgarner comes out of the game. Hopefully Maddon told the team before the inning that there would be no vests on the way to Arizona unless they come back and get the win.
Base hit by Zobrist and Rizzo comes off the bench and strikes out. Kris Bryant flies out to the warning track in right field and the pressure falls to Contreras. I fully expect a two-run homer and a glorious bat flip. Instead I get a weak ground ball that Sandoval skillfully fields like it was 2011 and Contreras tweaks a hamstring on the way to first. The season just got more depressing.
Pence with a solo shot in the 8th, Giants lead 3-1.
Happ, Baez, and Schwarber go down without a fight in the ninth. Sam Dyson has apparently remembered how to pitch again and the Giants can thank the Rangers for the free asset. Cubs lose 3-1.
While my predictions weren’t dead on, they were certainly in the ballpark of being accurate. To me, the Cubs are missing that “surprise me” feel that they had last season. I remember numerous times when I was pleasantly shocked/surprised with the good things last year, this year, not so much. I want that feeling back. Take a day off tomorrow, get to Arizona, and start surprising me please.
Down on the Farm
Iowa (55-59) 7, Sacramento 3: Mark Zaguinis hit his 13th homer and Victor Caratini went 2-3 with two doubles in probably his last game at Iowa this season as he will most likely be needed in Chicago to replace Contreras.
Tennessee (60-54): No game
Myrtle Beach (59-56) 2, Potomac 3: Another uninspiring outing from last year’s first round pick, Thomas Hatch. Five innings pitched, three runs allowed with six strikeouts and two walks. I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of 2B Trent Giambrone before but here he was hitting his 12th homer of the year in the loss. Keep it up Trent.
South Bend (58-56): No game
Eugene (27-25) 1, Boise 7 (6th inning): Alex Lange’s second start wasn’t nearly as good as his first. In 1 2/3 innings he gave up four runs (three earned) and didn’t strike out anyone.
Day off on Thursday. The Cubs will put their vests back on and head to Arizona for a weekend series starting Friday evening.