Cubs relish beating 'one of best teams of the decade'

Cubs relish beating 'one of best teams of the decade'

SAN FRANCISCO — The scene in the Cubs clubhouse Tuesday night was as you’d expect after their series-clinching victory over the Giants, with champagne and beer flying every which way.

Along with the celebration, however, came a healthy amount of respect for the team they managed to topple. The Giants’ “even-year” aura was a very real phenomenon. And after Chicago’s 6-5 victory wrapped up the National League Division Series, the Cubs understood the magnitude of what they accomplished.

“They proved to be the toughest team that this league has seen, the toughest team to beat in the postseason, especially when their backs are against the wall,” Cubs left fielder Ben Zobrist said. “They find a way to do it. Us knowing that, and still being able to come back in this game and win, I think just says a lot about this team.”

The Cubs rallied from a 5-2 deficit with a four-run top of the ninth off five Giants relievers, then turned things over to Aroldis Chapman to close it out in the bottom half. The game-winning rally began with Kris Bryant’s single to lead off the ninth against Derek Law, who came on to replace Giants starter Matt Moore.

“It’s huge,” Bryant said. “They’re a tough team. Obviously they struggled at the end of the year, but just getting into the playoffs, anything can happen. So beating one of the best teams of the last decade is pretty good for us.”

The Cubs seemed to find it extra gratifying to clinch the series at AT&T Park, in front of a raucous sellout crowd that sensed the Giants were conjuring up more of their familiar postseason mojo.

“They’ve won championships before,” Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward said. “In their even year, coming in and beating them at home is definitely special.”

The Giants had the championship pedigree, but the Cubs had Chapman.

And though the flame-throwing lefty coughed up a lead in the Giants’ Game 3 win on Monday, his presence Tuesday night made all the difference. With Giants manager Bruce Bochy shuttling through relievers rapidly in the top of the ninth trying to shut off the Cubs’ come-from-behind rally, Chapman came on in the bottom half for Chicago and struck out the side to end it swiftly.

“When it comes to the ninth inning, sometimes that’s the toughest one to beat a team in,” Zobrist said. “That’s why a shutdown closer is so important. We had that in Chappy tonight, which was huge. And they struggled with that over the last month of the year and stuff. I’m sure that’s gonna be something that they address as a club. But we felt like we had a good chance when they put the bullpen in.”

Connor Joe reveals first reaction when traded to Giants from Reds

Connor Joe reveals first reaction when traded to Giants from Reds

Ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2014 MLB Draft, Connor Joe has been working to get to the big leagues.

It appears the San Diego native will finally get that shot. A trade from the Reds to the Giants may have smashed open the door for Joe.

"It was exciting," Joe told KNBR 680 on Saturday when asked what his initial reaction was to the trade. "I was thrilled for the opportunity to get back with a team on the West Coast ... that's closer to home is an amazing opportunity for me."

Joe attended Poway High School in San Diego, and then went to the University of San Diego. The Pittsburgh Pirates used the No. 39 overall draft pick on Joe in 2014 and then traded him to Atlanta in August of 2017 for Sean Rodriguez. A month later, the Braves shipped him to the Dodgers. This past December, the Reds claimed Joe in the Rule 5 draft.

Then the trade to the Giants happened on Thursday.

Joe knows San Francisco well. During his time in the West Coast Conference, Joe made plenty of trips to the Bay Area to face the University of San Francisco, Saint Mary's and Santa Clara. He told KNBR's Marty Lurie that his sister lives in San Francisco, and that he traveled up state with his dad for the 2007 MLB All-Star Game.

"It's a great city, I love it," Joe said. "It's a little different speed than I'm used to in San Diego, but I'm really excited to be there and really excited for this opportunity."

The 2018 season was a breakout campaign for the 26-year-old. After hitting just 11 home runs his first three minor league seasons, Joe crushed 17 home runs last season between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Oklahoma City, and finished the year with a .299/.408/.527 slash line.

What led to the improved play?

"For me, I think the biggest thing was allowing my athletic abilities to come out and not being trapped in a certain way that people wanted me to be," Joe said. "So, I told myself to be athletic in the box, out in the field and saw really positive results from that."

One of the aspects that made Joe attractive to the Giants is his versatility. He has experience at first base, third base, left field and right field. But he doesn't have a preferred position.

"I can't tell you what I am," Joe said. "I'm a baseball player. It's something I've done throughout my career, starting in college, so I'm used to bouncing around from game to game, even inning to inning."

Things can change in a hurry, but considering that the Giants acquired him a week before Opening Day, it's safe to say they envision him on the roster.

[RELATED: Giants reportedly acquire Michael Reed]

Guess where the Giants open the 2019 season? Yep. San Diego.

Imagine if Joe is able to make his major league debut in his hometown in front of his family. What a story that would be.

MLB rumors: Giants trade for Michael Reed from Twins for John Andreoli


MLB rumors: Giants trade for Michael Reed from Twins for John Andreoli

The Giants aren't done making moves.

The team traded outfielder John Andreoli to the Twins for outfielder Michael Reed as NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reported on Saturday.

Reed played in just seven games last year with the Braves, hitting .286/.286/.286 -- the man, if anything, is consistent. 

But across 53 games in Triple-A, he boasted a .363 batting average with seven home runs and 25 RBI. 

Obviously, his big league numbers are at a very small sample size, but those numbers in the International League seem promising. 

[RELATED: Recent Giants' cuts could make impact on team later]

The Giants released both Cameron Maybin and Matt Joyce over the last 24 hours. The team acquired Michael Yastrzemski on Saturday to help bolster the outfield and provide more bodies for an empty situation -- that appears to be the trend with bringing Reed to the team.