© Patrick Gorski | 2021 Sep 11
Before Saturday, the Giants hadn’t scored at least 15 runs since May 20, when they put up a season-high 19 in Cincinnati.
Against the Cubs, the Giants poured on five runs in the third inning and six in the fifth. Tommy La Stella, Brandon Belt, Kris Bryant and Evan Longoria each recorded multiple hits. In total, SF crossed home 15 times via 13 base knocks and 13 free bags.
With every victory, the Giants (92-50) inch closer to the playoffs. It’s officially “magic number” time, and SF’s is now four after its sixth straight win — a 15-4 romp. Against the Cubs, they broke double-digit runs for the 14th time in 2021; San Francisco is undefeated in such games.
The Cubs, for the second straight game, jumped out to a 1-0 lead. But again the Giants responded with authority.
Seemingly all of Zach Davies’ pitches looked the same, with his cutter and sinker topping out around 88 mph and his changeup floating between 78 and 80. His pitch-to-contact approach is similar to that of Kyle Hendricks, Chicago’s starter from the series opener.
But unlike Friday’s game, when the Giants had to wait for the Cubs’ bullpen to relieve Hendricks to do damage, San Francisco got to Davies early. By remaining disciplined at the plate, SF took advantage of Davies’ sudden command issues to turn a 1-0 deficit in the second inning into a 5-1 lead.
Brandon Crawford walked on four pitches. Evan Longoria then doubled into the deep left field corner. Davies then pitched around Mike Yastrzemski to load the bases, and fell behind 3-0 to Tommy La Stella. La Stella’s two-out, 3-2 line drive single into right scored Crawford and Longoria. Then Brandon Belt, SF’s self-anointed captain and hottest hitter on the team, lofted a low Davies change up into the wind and out of the park. The three-run shot left Belt’s bat at 98.7 mph with a .290 expected batting average, but it carried out of Wrigley’s center field.
While Hendricks pitched six innings of one-run ball, Davies lasted just two innings. In the game, SF walked a season-high 11 times, plus an intentional pass and a hit-by-pitch.
Longoria added another run with an RBI single smoked up the middle in the third against reliever Adbert Alzolay. The veteran third baseman told reporters after Friday’s win he feels surprisingly healthy; he’s played in just 63 games this year due to shoulder and hand injuries. He’s reached base in six consecutive games and went 2-for-3 with three RBI Saturday.
Tommy LaStella with his best Barry Bonds impression 💥 pic.twitter.com/I1e09ZxYbn
— KNBR (@KNBR) September 11, 2021
San Francisco’s offense erupted again three innings later, in the fifth. Manuel Rodríguez, in relief for Alzolay, loaded the bases with two walks and a single. Then he walked in a run by missing the zone four times in a row to Longoria. Rodríguez didn’t record a single out before getting replaced by Tommy Nance, who allowed a three-run blast off the right field scoreboard from La Stella (3-for-6, 5 RBI).
The Giants have played games at Coors Field, Miller Park and Great American Ballpark. It’s not just the stadium, but with the wind blowing out in Wrigley, SF put up video game numbers.
To win every game they break 10 runs, the Giants have needed solid pitching. His stats may not look like it, but Gausman gave SF an excellent start.
In the third inning, the Giants’ defense gifted Chicago extra outs. First, Longoria misplayed a catchable pop fly in foul territory to extend the inning. Then Mike Yastrzemski lost Ian Happ’s routine fly ball in the wind, letting it drop on the warning track for a two-out triple. Happ then scored on an infield single to deep short.
Gausman (6IP, 8H, 3ER, 9K) only allowed one hard-hit ball — Frank Schwindel’s first inning double — in his entire start. He routinely got ahead of Cubs hitters in the count, and relied on his fastball to put them out; just one of his nine strikeouts came on a splitter. Gausman eclipsed the 200-strikeout mark on the season for the first time, becoming the first Giants righty since Jeff Samardzija in 2017 to fan at least 200 batters. As hitters have grown more accustomed to his splitter since the All-Star Break, Gausman has adjusted.
But Gausman didn’t even need to be perfect on Saturday. That’s what an explosive offense affords pitchers. And when SF’s lineup is clicking like it was in the win, the Giants are infallible.