Game 136 – Giant Killers?
Cubs 5, Giants 2
What Went Right
- Matt Garza pitched another solid game tonight, going 6.2 innings and surrendering just 2 runs. While he did give up 9 hits, he didn’t walk anyone until the 7th inning. He even had 2 hits of his own. And since he lives not far away in Fresno, he was pitching in front of plenty of friends and family. Tonight they had plenty to cheer about.
- Especially since the Cubs provided Garza with some rare (when he pitches) run support. The suddenly hot-hitting Alfonso Soriano staked the Cubs to an early lead with a solo homer that appeared to go much deeper into the left field bleachers than the reported 445 ft. From there they added on with a sacrifice fly from Barney, a single by Soriano, and a clutch, two-out ground rule double from Soto that should have cleared the bases (if not for the vague nuances of the fan-interference rules).
- Our well-rested bullpen helped successfully shut the door on the Giants. With Garza showing a little shakiness near the end of the 7th, Marshall came in and needed just one pitch to get the third out. He and Wood split the 8th inning duties, and Marmol came on to close out the 9th and earn his 31st save. Altogether, they held the Giants hitless after the departure of Garza in the 7th.
- A few of the Cubs also flashed the leather in the field tonight. Colvin dove to stop a bouncing ball that was ticketed for the right field corner and would have been an easy double. Pena made a smooth spinning dig on a ball down the first base line and sprinted to first for the last out of the 6th. Barney in particular had a good night. First, he made a nice grab on a line drive and doubled off Pablo Sandoval in the 4th inning. Then in the 9th he briefly became an outfielder to make a circus catch on a lazy fly ball in short center field for the final out.
- In simple terms, everybody did their jobs tonight. How many times have we been able to say that this season?
What Went Wrong
- I’ll never understand what goes on in Mike Quade’s head, and I’m fine with that. With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the 7th, Soto hit a liner that touched down near the third base line in shallow left field and bounced into foul territory along the wall, where a fan scooped up the live ball. The umpire ruled (incorrectly) that Colvin had to return to third base, so we had men on second and third, still with two outs. I thought it would be a perfect spot to bring in a pinch hitter and turn the game over to the aforementioned well-rested bullpen. While Garza had only thrown 73 pitches up to that point, he had pitched well enough to earn the win, and deserved whatever run support the Cubs could provide. Instead, Quade opted to let Garza (who already had two hits) bat for himself. He struck out, threw 22 pitches in the 7th, giving up a couple singles, a double, and the Giants’ second run before he was removed with 2 out and 2 on. It didn’t cost us anything in the long run, so maybe I’m just nitpicking here, but it seems to me like one more example of Quade and Riggins mismanaging their pitching staff.
- Carlos Marmol was his usual, effectively-wild self tonight. No, the walk he gave up tonight didn’t hurt the Cubs. But we probably ought to get used to his particular brand of roller-coaster performances. For the foreseeable future, the Cubs will be preaching patience to us fans. At least a portion of that patience will need to go to Marmol, as it doesn’t appear that his contract is a priority to move.
- It’s hard to believe these Cubs are the same team that was getting pantsed by the Brewers just days ago. In spurts, the casual fan might even be persuaded to think we were competitive.
- Here’s a fun fact: as of tonight, Soriano, Pena, and Ramirez each have 24 home runs. Think back to the early weeks of the season–did it seem like even one of them might reach that number? If nothing else, it should be worth watching for the last month of the season to see how each of them finishes their mercurial seasons.
Stars of the Game
Based on Win Probability Added (WPA)
1st Star – Matt Garza (.168 WPA)
2nd Star – Jeff Keppinger (.158 WPA)
3rd Star – Alfonso Soriano (.123 WPA)