Giants clubbed by Cubs

The Giants are 2-1/2 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West. Serious playoff contenders, at first glance.

You wouldn’t know it from watching Monday night’s game.

The Giants returned home after a rough 2-5 road trip hoping for a little hometown lift. Instead they fell 8-5, their fifth-straight loss to the Cubbies.

The scale was completely tipped; Jake Arrieta‘s stuff was typically puzzling enough to earn him his 16th win and the Cubs’ high-powered offense eased past Matt Cain.

Cain had little room for error — the Cubs came into the game tied with the Mets for the most home runs in the NL — but he quickly lost control.

He was perfect through the second, but gave up a leadoff single to Starlin Castro in the third and pushed him to third on two messy pitches. Cain reached his ledge.

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

Kyle Schwarber clubbed a second-pitch hanging breaking ball, identical to the first, deep over the arcade. Cubs went up 3-0 and took the league lead in home runs.

Miguel Montero lept on another fat breaking pitch the following inning, sending Kris Bryant, who had singled to lead off the inning, home with him. Cubs up 5-0.

Cain (L, 2-4, 6.15 ERA) didn’t last long after; he was booted off the mound after giving up six runs in his five innings. Bruce Bochy said Cain’s slot changed through the game, causing his pitches to fall a bit too flat:

“His pitches got away from him and it’s a tough lineup and he left a couple secondary pitches up. First two innings he was locked in, he couldn’t miss a spot. Like I said it just got away from him. But he’s trying to find it. Matt’s giving you all he’s got out there but the long ball has hurt him this year.”

Cain didn’t have much to say after the game. Understandably frustrated with his outing, he summed it all up:

“I just made two huge bad pitches.”

But two bad pitches are worth a few more words. Through all of Cain’s starts, solid or sluggish, Bochy’s argued that Cain is still showing flashes of light.

But his progress is running too slow for the pace the Giants must be at as the run for the playoff gates. Cain is essentially dealing with a new pitching arm after surgery and a long rehab, said Bochy:

“It’s part of the process and it takes a little bit longer than he would like and we would like.”

Just to sum up Cain’s flat couple of months; he’s allowed 36 earned runs, 21 of them via home run. Apparently he’s giving up an average 1.8 home runs per nine innings. He holds a team-worst 6.15 ERA

Bochy didn’t say Cain was out of the rotation tonight, but it’s something he said he’d discuss Wednesday. Not a good sign for Matty.

And the offense?

Brandon Crawford worked an 11-pitch at bat against Arrieta with runners on the corners, tipping off foul ball after foul ball, before striking out swinging to end the threat.

Crawford threw his helmet to the ground and a sigh hummed through AT&T Park, perfectly capturing the Giants’ offensive mood.

Arrieta (W, 16-6, 2.22 ERA) had held the Giants to one hit, a Matt Duffy single in the fourth, before Kelby Tomlinson cracked through the wall a bit with a leadoff single to start that sixth.

He moved to third on a productive Nori Aoki out and fielder’s choice. Tomlinson scored on sloppy fielding by Anthony Rizzo on Brandon Belt‘s soft ground ball.

Then team’s second RBI leader came to bat with runners on the corners. He lost the battle. Said Bochy of Arrieta:

“He’s throwing balls better than anybody. Great stuff, velocity, cutter, breaking ball change. He’s had a great year. That’s why he’s got, what, 16 wins now or something.”

Yeah, the Giants just handed Arrieta the win that now puts him in the Major League lead for wins.

He’s accrued a 0.54 ERA during the Cubs’ spectacular August; they’ve now won 21 of their last 25 games, including that four-game sweep of the Giants earlier this month at Wrigley.

Timely hits came as they usually do in a Giants’ comeback: too little too late.

With Arrieta off the mound, the Giants could finally have a little fun.

In the eighth, Belt, Juan Perez and Marlon Byrd singled to load the bases and Gregor Blanco sent an opposite field RBI single to cut the Giants’ deficit to six.

The bases still juiced, Andrew Susac ripped a base-clearing double deep toward the kale garden, giving the Giants their final few runs.

Brandon Crawford left today’s game with what Bochy calls “side tightness” and Juan Perez played in the infield for the first time as a Giant:

“Tightened up quite a bit and wasn’t even worth the risk. Juan has played infield so I had to make a change there. We’ll see how Craw’s doing tomorrow, I’d put him at day-to-day right now.”

Jeremy Affeldt went on the 15-day disabled list today after injuring his right knee while playing with his kids. Mike Broadway was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to take his place.

Angel Pagan it in the leadoff spot and went 2-for-3 Tuesday as the leadoff hitter in his rehab stint with Sacramento. He was eligible to come of the disabled list today.


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