Two ball clubs entered AT&T Park Friday night riding high. One left with a bruise.
The Giants, coasting on an eight-game win streak, crashed into the 28-11 Chicago Cubs in a 8-1 loss in Game 1 of this three-game series.
Jake Arrieta proved to be all that was promised, spitting fire through seven innings. Arrieta (W, 8-0, 1.29 ERA) held San Francisco to one run on four hits and struck out eight to preserve his pristine record. The Cubs (29-11) have now won in Arrieta’s last 22 starts and Arrieta has won 19 consecutive decisions.
Bochy was impressed:
“The guy is a monster out there.”
“It’s an incredible run. He’s just got great stuff. His ball is moving too, it’s not just velocity, it’s running all over the place and he’s got the cutter. The big curveball and change. All above average pitches. You gotta play your best ball to beat him.”
The Giants had to be perfect, but early mistakes buried that hope.
Arrieta is arguably the best pitcher in the game right now. And the Giants had Jake Peavy (L, 1-5, 8.21 ERA) to offer on their end. An unfair battle on paper made a smidge lighter by Peavy’s six-inning, one-run outing in Arizona.
Costly two-strike mistakes did Peavy in. Dexter Fowler punched a leadoff single in the first off a two strike pitch which led to a bases loaded jam that ticked Peavy’s pitch count up to 28 in an otherwise unproductive inning.
It was a two-out, 2-2 changeup to Kris Bryant in the second that proved most costly — the reigning Rookie of the Year thrashed it to left field for a three-run bomb. Peavy said he’d take that pitch back if he could:
“We were a strike away from getting in the dugout.”
“He was pretty upset with himself on that last pitch. It just got away from him to a good hitter. That’s the one that really ticked him off.”
Peavy was out of there after 1-2/3 innings; the last time he’d gotten the boot in 1-2/3 was in 2010. He at least lasted two before the Mets squeezed six runs out of him back in April.
The Cubs’ mature lineup made an improved Peavy look worse than he was. Peavy was throwing 91 fastballs, a notch faster than ones he tossed in his decent Arizona start.
Peavy said he just felt energized tonight, his stuff was there. But the Cubs made him work:
“When teams are going that well and are that professional, you gotta earn your win and they’re going to make you throw those 3-2 pitches and that’s a part of who they are.”
Peavy went strikeout-less for the fifth time in his career and dished 55 pitches. It was time for the bullpen, who had pitched just three innings over the past five days, to get some action. Said Bochy of his well-rested bullpen:
“(Peavy) was coming out regardless. His pitch count was up there pretty good. It did make it easier to get him out that point.”
The bullpen calmed things down. Derek Law made the potent Cubs look dizzy, at times, tossing 1-1/3 innings of no-hit ball. Alberto Suarez kept it going for three innings, shutting down all 10 batters he faced.
The Giants still had an outside shot, down 5-1, until George Kontos — in his first game back from injury — gave up back-to-back bombs to Ben Zobrist and Jorge Soler to give the Cubs a 7-1 lead in the eighth. Daggers.
Still, there was no chance the Giants would get an edge on Arrieta. The Cubs defense, even, threw caution to the unusually high winds for their starter. Denard Span made promising contact to lead off the first, sending a ball deep to triples alley. Jason Heyward flew across right field and landed awkwardly on his torso — legs whipping over — to make the heroic catch.
The Cubs defense came through again in the third. After Joe Panik‘s two-out single put the Giants’ one and only run on the board, Matt Duffy singled — breaking his 0-for-21 skid — to put runners on the corners. Buster Posey launched a sure-fire extra-base hit to left field that Jorge Soler robbed with a leaping catch at the wall. Said Bochy:
“Ball goes out it’s a one-run game. It’s a couple feet from going out. And first ball we hit on the night, what a great play they made, and that’s a triple. That’s baseball. You got your hands full with their guy. We just got down too far.”
Against Arrieta, the game plan is perfection, said Peavy:
“The way to win is not giving up many runs. You can’t bank on Jake Arrieta giving up three runs.”
The Giants snapped their eight-game win streak, but they’ll try to get back on track with Arrieta out of the way Saturday for Game 2. Matt Cain (0-5, 5.87 ERA) will face John Lester (4-2, 1.88 ERA).