The San Francisco Giants played four games in Chicago decided by one run each, and lost three of them. The one that hurt the most was the last one, on Sunday, when they led 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth. Casilla blew another save when the Cubs tied at 2-2, and then the Giants failed to cash in on several chances in extra innings. They lost 3-2 after 13.
The one bright spot was Saturday, when the Giants combined a very strong performance by Madison Bumgarner with opportunistic baseball, taking full advantage of a couple of Cubs mistakes. This game suggested that the Giants still have some postseason moxie left in them.
They can console themselves that they lost to the team that is clearly the best in baseball at the moment, and must be the heavy favorite to win all the marbles this year. On the other hand, the Giants had everything to play for and the Cubs essentially had nothing, and it was the Cubs that came through in the crucial moments to win three one-run games.
The Giants are a mess, carrying way too many pitchers and not getting enough hits. At least one of their risky moves last month has come back to haunt them, as I suspected it might: they got rid of catcher Andrew Susak, their backup catcher last year who would have been a strong third option now. With backup Trevor Brown ailing, Buster Posey has been playing way too much, adding exhaustion to several minor ailments that aren't getting rest to heal. Posey's hitting is predictably way down.
The Giants have been lucky in one regard--the Dodgers haven't been a lot better. But today's combination of Giants' loss and Dodgers victory drops SF three games back, which right now looks like a very steep climb. With the Cards and Mets surging, and the Pirates staying around, even a Wild Card berth is questionable.
Bumgarner on Saturday pointed out that the Giants are actually in better shape in the standings now than they were at this time in 2014. I don't know how much consolation that is, however. The Giants had a more reliable closer then, and a more experienced bullpen. And there wasn't anybody who looked as strong as the Cubs do now. Even if the Giants limp into postseason, it's hard to see them getting past the Cubs in a series.
Still, it's baseball. And there's enough of it left to offer big surprises.
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