Giants drop series opener to Cubs, 6-4


Giants drop series opener to Cubs, 6-4


CHICAGO Madison Bumgarner was the only fully rested player in a Giants uniform Friday afternoon.

But he looked just as sleep-deprived as everyone else in a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Bumgarner had terrific stuff early, but made a series of damaging, two-strike mistakes in a four-run third inning. His lack of focus was obvious when he failed to back up home plate, allowing another run to score.

Bumgarner put the Giants in a 5-0 hole, and although they came back from a four-run deficit to win the previous night at Houston, their legs were too heavy to reel off another. They arrived at their hotel after 3:30 a.m. Friday morning following a night game in Houston; Bumgarner was sawing logs well before that, since he traveled ahead of his teammates.

The Giants had to be satisfied to end August with an 18-11 record -- their most victories in a month since their memorable kick to the finish in September, 2010.

Starting pitching report

Bumgarner (14-9) could become the first Giants left-hander to win 15 games since Shawn Estes in 2000, but he remained stuck on 14 for the second consecutive start.

He gave up a run in the first inning when Joe Mather drew a leadoff walk, stole second base and scored on Alfonso Sorianos single.

It exposed an emerging weakness in Bumgarners game. Even though hes left-handed and has whats considered to be a good pickoff move, he has allowed a team-high 22 stolen bases (out of 30 attempts). Obviously, advance scouts are seeing an area to exploit.

Bumgarners biggest weakness was his lack of focus with two strikes. He had two outs and an 0-2 count in the third when Anthony Rizzo punched a single, then he had an 0-2 count on Soriano when he threw a cutterslider that ran right onto the barrel of the veterans bat.

It was Sorianos 24th home run of the season as he continued to take a scouring pad to Bumgarner. It didnt make it any easier that Soriano reportedly rejected a potential waiver trade to the Giants, citing the chilly weather at AT&T Park.

With two outs and the bases empty, Bumgarner still couldnt get his teammates into the dugout. Starlin Castro singled on yet another two-strike pitch, then Wellington Castillo hit a double to the wall in left field. Gregor Blanco nearly got swallowed whole by the ivy as he chased after it.

Then came the biggest sin of all. Castro scored easily as the throw bounded away from Buster Posey, and by the time the catcher realized he had nobody behind him, Castillo already had begun his sprint around third base. Poseys desperation toss skipped past Bumgarner as he broke toward the plate a Bad News Bears moment for a club that had played such solid fundamental baseball all through the month.

At least Bumgarner threw 60 of 85 pitches for strikes in four innings. That might have been a few strikes too many.
Bullpen report

Chicagoland native and Northwestern University alum George Kontos fulfilled a lifelong dream by pitching at Wrigley Field, and he nearly committed a balk by levitating a few inches above the mount.

Not really, no. But the fifth pitch he threw took flight, as Anthony Rizzo rattled a home run in the basket that fronts the bleachers. Umpires originally called it a triple, but fittingly on the first college football weekend of the season, the boys in blue went under the hood and quickly determined on replay that it was a home run.

Kontos didnt allow another run in his two innings.

At the plate

Did we mention the Giants were tired?

Even with a warm wind blowing out to Waveland Ave., the Giants barely registered a pulse against right-hander Chris Volstad, who entered 1-9 with a 6.28 ERA.

On Sunday, Volstad snapped a streak of 24 winless starts when he emerged the pitcher of record in a rain-shortened victory over the Colorado Rockies. Now you can use the words Volstad and winning streak in the same sentence.

Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence grounded into double plays to stall rallies in the early innings. Posey hit an RBI double after Ryan Theriot singled in the fourth and Sandovals sacrifice fly scored Angel Pagan in the sixth, but otherwise the Giants showed theyd make lousy long-haul truckers.

They never seem to lack for a second wind in the late innings, though. Posey, who was expected to rest Friday, hit an RBI single in the eighth to complete an impressive afternoon in which he reached in all four plate appearances. Pence brought home another run on a ground out to make it a 6-4 game.

But although the Giants chipped away, they lacked the dagger shot to complete the comeback.
In field

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval made a lunging stop and a strong throw to take a single away from Castro in the fifth. Right fielder Hunter Pence looked a but ungainly as he fought the wind but managed to make a nice play on Castillos fly ball in the second.

And file this one away for future reference: Bumgarner gave a bull-snorting glare in the direction of Josh Vitters after the Cubs catcher flipped his bat in disgust after lining out in the fourth. Bumgarner did not face Vitters again. Theres always next season for a rib tickler.

The Cubs announced 32,476 paid, and there were plenty of ample-sized, yellow-shirted Iowa fans dotting the stands. The Hawkeyes open up with Northern Illinois at Soldier Field on Saturday. It might be their best shot at a victory against an Illinois-based team this season.

Up next

You expect day baseball at Wrigley Field, but the Giants will start especially bright and early on Saturday. Its a 10:05 a.m. PDT first pitch against the Chicago Cubs. Tim Lincecum (7-14, 5.30 ERA) will oppose right-hander Justin Germano (2-4, 5.09). Well see if the remnants of Hurricane Isaac disrupt proceedings. Its forecasted to be a wet weekend in the Windy City.

Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster


Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster

The Giants added two premier face of the franchise players this offseason in Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. Together the two have combined for eight All-Star Game appearances. 

What they don't bring to San Francisco though, is youth. Longoria (32) and McCutchen (31) are the latest to join an again Giants roster. Buster Posey turn 31 in March, Johnny Cueto turns 32 in February, Hunter Pence turns 35 in April, Brandon Crawford turns 31 in January, and Brandon Belt turns 30 in April.

Father Time though, is far from getting Longoria and the rest of the Giants' stars according to the third baseman. 

"I believe that all of us believe we're in our prime and we are more than capable of competing," Longoria said Wednesday on KNBR. "That's just ways of making waves in the news. Our job is to just go out and do our job. I think we'll be just fine." 

Longoria is entering his 11th season in the big leagues. That has certainly added wear and tear on him, but also added knowledge of his body. 

"I'm definitely a different player," Longoria says now at 32 compared to 22. "There's a lot of ways that I prepare now that I didn't have to do or I didn't know how to do when I was a younger player. For me personally, it's going to be quite an experience."

While Longoria and McCutchen may not have the freshest pair of legs in baseball, they are two of the most durable players in the game. In 2017, both players appeared in 156 out of 162 games.

"Being prepared for the season is one thing and I know how to do that and I know how to get myself ready for that," Longoria said. "It's just a matter of the day in and day out homework so to speak that I'll have to do. That's gonna change based on the league and based on the division."

Evan Longoria reacts to Giants' 'big, big acquisition' of Andrew McCutchen

Evan Longoria reacts to Giants' 'big, big acquisition' of Andrew McCutchen

When Evan Longoria heard he was being traded to the Giants, he instantly thought of the three World Series trophies. 

"They've won three World Series in the past eight years or whatever, everyone knows that," Longoria said Wednesday on KNBR. "It's a great place to be. The fan base is amazing. I'm just looking forward to playing in front of that and being a part of that." 

That's true, the Giants have won three titles in the last eight years. At one point, it was three in five years, building a modern-day dynasty. That also means they have come up short the last three years. 

In 2017, the Giants fell well beyond short. Playing his whole career in the American League East for the Tampa Bay Rays, Longoria didn't realize quite how bad things were going in San Francisco this past season. 

His wife did though. 

"My wife was actually the one that said, 'Hey, did you know the Giants basically had the worst record in baseball last year?'" Longoria shared. "I said 'I'm excited to be going to a contender' and she said 'Uhh... wait a second here.' But I know that those things happen and it's very tough to compete atop of the division every year and there's years that you have to punt so to speak and start preparing for next year." 

None of that matters to Longoria. The past is the past. All Longoria cares about now is 2018 and beyond. And he believes the Giants are in line to make some more Even Year Magic.

"I truly believe that this organization, obviously with the moves that they've made this offseason, with the recent acquisition of [Andrew] McCutchen, I believe that they're still not done," Longoria says. "I think they wanna do a few more things and that shows a committment to winning. We're definitely on the path to turning it around this year." 

The Giants acquired McCutchen from the Pirates on Monday for prospects Bryan Reynolds and Kyle Crick. Longoria couldn't be any more excited to be in the same lineup as McCutchen. 

"It's a big, big acquisition," Longoria said. "I think when you look at Cutch's numbers, they speak for themselves. When you look at what he's done on the baseball field is probably some of the best numbers and performances in the last 10 years in the National League.

"When you add a player like that, it brings a mindset that the team is committed to winning and I've heard nothing but great things about McCutchen in the clubhouse and off the field too. Whether or not you can quantify it, I believe those things go a long way." 

Longoria and McCutchen combined for 48 home runs and 174 RBI in 2017.