Maddon can't let Game 3 loss to Giants linger for Cubs


Maddon can't let Game 3 loss to Giants linger for Cubs

SAN FRANCISCO — Joe Maddon was working hard to put his best spin on the Cubs’ marathon defeat Monday at AT&T Park, which included an eighth-inning lead evaporating with his flame-throwing closer on the hill.

“Good baseball game,” the Chicago manager said. “I think that both sides should be somewhat exhilarated. … There’s nothing on our side to be ashamed of.”

The Giants’ 13-inning, 6-5 win that forced a Game 4 of this National League Division Series was one for the ages, a thrilling adrenaline rush for the Giants and their fans that rekindles hope that this best-of-five series is far from over.

For Maddon, his work is cut out as he tries to keep his team in a healthy frame of mind heading into Tuesday’s Game 4. The Cubs commanded a 3-0 lead on Jake Arrieta’s three-run homer in the second. They chased Giants ace Madison Bumgarner from the game after five innings, a victory in itself for the visitors. The path seemingly was cleared to a champagne celebration and a return trip to the NL Championship Series.

But the Cubs’ offense took a nap after the Arrieta homer, and that gave the Giants the sliver of opportunity they needed to deny Chicago a series-clinching victory. Leading 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth, Maddon called on closer Aroldis Chapman to attempt a six-out save.

The move backfired horribly, as Chapman gave up Conor Gillaspie’s two-run go-ahead triple followed by Brandon Crawford’s RBI single. That the Cubs tied it in the ninth on Kris Bryant’s two-run homer before losing in the 13th did little to put a positive shine on this one.

Chicago’s bullpen hadn’t surrendered a run to the Giants in 33 2/3 innings this season before Gillaspie’s triple, on which he turned around a 101 mile-per-hour fastball from Chapman and drilled a liner to right-center that scored the tying and go-ahead runs. The Giants’ come-from-behind victory was their 10th in a row in an “elimination” scenario, stoking the belief that there might still be some “even-year” magic left for San Francisco to draw upon.

The Cubs still lead the series 2 games-to-1 heading into Tuesday, when they send veteran John Lackey to the mound to oppose lefty Matt Moore. But has the momentum swung to the Giants? Is it the Cubs who now should be feeling the pressure?

Chapman, acquired in July in a move aimed at pushing the Cubs over the top, said Monday’s blown save wouldn’t have any carry-over effect for him.

“Once I get on the field tomorrow, everything is forgotten about today,” Chapman said through an interpreter.

Maddon didn’t envision calling on Chapman with no outs in the eighth. Lefty Travis Wood gave up Brandon Belt’s leadoff single. Then Maddon called on right-hander Hector Rondon, who walked Buster Posey to bring up Hunter Pence with two aboard and the Cubs leading 3-2.

“Had (Rondon) gotten Posey out, I would have let him pitch to Pence right there,” Maddon explained afterward. “But there was a threat for a bunt. There’s all kinds of things they could have done there. And I know it’s hard to bunt a hundred miles an hour. So let’s just bring (Chapman) in right there, give him a little wiggle room.”

Chapman reportedly had expressed to Maddon earlier this season that he wasn’t real comfortable entering games in the eighth. Asked about that after Monday’s game he said: “I didn’t have any problem. I told him if he needed me in the eighth inning I was available.”

The Cubs did so much that was good Monday. They drove Bumgarner from the game early. They got a gritty four-inning relief effort from Mike Montgomery, who eventually gave up Joe Panik’s walk-off double in the 13th. And they got a sensational diving catch from rookie Albert Almora Jr. in the ninth that became an inning-ending double play.

But it didn’t result in a Game 3 victory. As a result, Game 4 will take place Tuesday night. Maddon said his entire bullpen, excluding Montgomery, should be available. The question is how the Cubs respond after such an emotionally draining defeat.

Maddon will be preaching a “keep your chin up” mantra.

“Obviously you want to win that game,” Maddon said. “You had it right there. You had your good guys, your best guys in there. Everything seemed to be lining up properly and you didn’t win. You’ve got to give them credit, man. They kept fighting. And you knew that they would.”


Arrieta’s homer made the Cubs just the second team in major league history to have two pitchers homer in the same postseason series, joining the 1924 New York Giants. Wood went deep in Game 2.

Giants starter Jeff Samardzija to get MRI on right shoulder


Giants starter Jeff Samardzija to get MRI on right shoulder

The Giants almost made it through spring training with no serious injuries.

But as they get set to leave Arizona for the Bay Area, Jeff Samardzija is dealing with a shoulder issue.

On Wednesday, Samardzija pitched in a minor league game. He gave up two homers, hit a batter in the fourth inning and was pulled from the game.

A day later, the Giants announced that Samardzija will undergo an MRI on his right shoulder. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, results of the MRI will be known later Thursday evening.

Samardzija's numbers in official spring training games this year are ugly. In 11 innings, he's 17 hits, 13 earned runs and six home runs.

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers


No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”