After sweeping the Astros in the first series following the All-Star Break, the San Francisco Giants came into town for a 4 game set. Before the first pitch was thrown, you knew that this was a series where the Cubs had to take 3 of 4. The Giants' record speaks for itself, and you never want to settle for a split at home against a team this bad. I was lucky enough to be at 2 of the games (my first games in almost 2 years), so I figured I would have to post something. Here are my thoughts from the series.
I was there for Rich Hill v. Tim Lincecum, (who ironically bears a striking resemblance to Henry Rowengardner from Rookie of the Year. Think about it. Short stature? Check. 12 year old looking face? Check. Blazing fastball? Check.), which was a great game to pick considering it had been, like I said, almost 2 years since I'd been to Wrigley (night game, ESPN, Bonds in town). Speaking of Bonds, we had found out on the train on the way to the game that he would not play. Some people were upset, which really confused me. Bonds is obviously their best hitter, and with him out of the lineup, there really is no one in that Giants lineup that can beat you. Frankly, I couldn't have cared less whether or not Bonds played or hit a home run while he was in town. I told everyone that if I had it my way, I wish Bonds would sit out the whole series. Anyways, I had awesome seats right behind the plate, and other than some early drizzling, the weather was perfect.
It was nice to see Dick pitch as well as he did. Granted, it came against a Bonds-less Giants lineup, which is like a Kobe-less Lakers team. Still he looked good. Even better though was Lincecum, who outside of a Koyie Hill homer, was totally dominant. I think he's got a shot to be a really good pitcher, and its looking like the idea to keep him out of the bullpen is paying off for the Giants.
Needless to say, Ramirez came up huge, as he continues to show that he is the guy Cub fans should want up with the game on the line. With the Giants down one in the bottom of the ninth, I was surprised we didn't see Bonds pinch hit. Cubs win 3-2. I capped off a good night by picking up a Ryan Theriot shirt. Solid investment.
Game 2 saw Marshall go against fellow lefty Barry Zito, with Bonds out of the lineup for the second consecutive day. Both lefties threw well, and for Barry Zito it couldn't have come at a better time. Leading up to this, Zito had really struggled, making that mega deal he scored in the off season look worse with each passing start. Quite frankly, I think that contract will go down as one of the all-time worst ever. Switching to the the NL was a good move for Zito, and San Franciso's park (whatever it's called these days) suits him and his flyball tendencies well. But as long as Bonds, Roberts, and Winn are patrolling that massive outfield, I think he will really struggle. It amazes me that San Francisco's GM Brian Sabean would commit that kind of money to an obviously declining pitcher when his organization is on the cusp of rebuilding. Zito and his contract figure to be a major albatross for the Giants for next 7 years to come.
The game was disappointing when the Cubs lost as a result of Carlos Marmol and Will Ohman really struggling to find the strike zone. I'm not too worried about Marmol though. I think he has just been overworked lately.
I was at the laugher that was Game 3. Before the game in the 7-11 across the street, I saw a group of Giants fans wearing matching shirts that said "CUBS= Completely Useless By September." I found that interesting considering the Giants are already completely useless and it isn't even August.
The Giants really handed us this one. While they didn't get charged with one error, that was mostly the result of home field score keeping. They really kicked the ball around all day, particularly Klesko and Feliz. If you want the definition of a tough luck starter, then look no further than Matt Cain, who started Game 3 for the Giants. He was one pitch away from getting out of that 5th inning with no harm done, but Klesko booted a chopper to his right off the bat of Jacque Jones. After this game he moved to 3-11 despite a pretty solid ERA.
I've been pretty critical of Koyie Hill since his callup, but no question he was the MVP of the day, as he doubled twice driving in 5 runs. Sometimes you just gotta give credit where credit is due. Do I think that we can expect more of this from Koyie? No. But let's just say it doesn't hurt getting a little lucky sometimes.
I really liked how Lou lifted Big Z after just 5 innings and 90 or so pitches. If anyone could use the rest, it's Carlos. Sean Gallagher came in and earned the 4 inning save, but I wasn't overly impressed. He didn't strikeout a single batter, while his control really came and went over the course of his outing. I still think Gallagher has a bright future as a solid back end of the rotation guy, but right now he just doesn't serve a purpose in our 'pen, and is probably best served in the minors working as a starter.
Game 4 was pretty wild. With Bonds in the lineup for the first time in the series, The Giants picked up right where they left off the day before kicking the ball all over the diamond. It was 1-0 Cubs after two pitches after the Giants' starter Matt Morris threw the ball away after Theriot tried to bunt Soriano over to third. Ted Lilly battled through 5 innings, but clearly didn't have his best stuff. When the dust cleared, Jacque Jones had 4 htis (!) Cliff Floyd and Darryl Ward were hurt, and Barry Bonds had homered twice, and the Cubs squeaked out a 9-8 victory, successfully taking 3 of 4 from the pathetic Giants.
Bring on the D'Backs.