WRIGLEY FIELD — Heading into the first of a three game series, the Cubs and Giants seemed primed for a nice little pitching matchup Tuesday night.
By night’s end, a 4-1/2 hour rain delay turned it into much more.
Chicago starter Tsuyoshi Wada (W, 3-1, 2.75 ERA) set the pace early, pitching around a screaming double from Hunter Pence in the first to retire the side.
Giants righty Ryan Vogelsong (L, 7-9, 3.79 ERA) wasn’t as lucky, serving up a mammoth two-run shot to Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo in the bottom half. The home run easily cleared the right field bleachers, and would eventually stand as the game’s only runs.
Vogelsong’s one-out walk to Javier Baez before facing Rizzo was indicative of his evening on the mound. The former All-Star Vogelsong struggled to find the zone early in at-bats and needed 76 pitches to get through just four innings.
The lefty Wada was far from unhittable, surrendering doubles to Angel Pagan (2-for-3), Joaquin Arias (2-for-2) and Pence. But every time the veteran from Japan got into a jam with the Giant lineup, he managed to get out of it.
Besides Rizzo doubling in the third, Vogelsong started to settle into his own groove on the hill. The pitching matchup seemed well on its way to dominating the game’s storylines. And then the rain showed up.
In what could be described as a late signal from crew chief Hunter Wendelstedt, the Cubs grounds crew frantically tried to cover the playing surface at Wrigley Field as rain came down heavily for a 15-minute period.
The late start led the grounds crew to struggle with covering the field as the tarp took on more and more water.
The storm passed quickly, but the damage was done. Both the shortstop and second base areas were virtually flooded, and the crew used everything from leaf-blowers to bags and bags of diamond dry to remedy the field playable.
Four hours and 34 minutes later, well after 1 a.m. Chicago time, Wendelstedt finally decided that the field was in fact not playable, giving Wada and the Cubs (55-70) a bizarre 2-0 win.
The lengthy delay was an effort to try and finish the game as it had started, instead of handling the Giants (65-59) a tough-break loss in late August.
Already trailing by four games to the Dodgers in the NL West, a defeat like this is exactly what you don’t need as September gets nearer and nearer if you’re San Francisco.
The Giants will look to regroup in game two tomorrow night at 7:05 CT, and they’ll need righty Jake Peavy to step up to get a much-needed victory.