© Kamil Krzaczynski | 2021 Sep 12
Even as the Giants gifted the Cubs extra bases with outfielding miscues, even as they went 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position, even as Logan Webb allowed the most earned runs in a start since April, the Giants staved off the Cubs for a series sweep in Wrigley Field.
For the first time this storybook season, the Giants have won seven straight games. It’s a surprising milestone for the team with baseball’s best record; the Dodgers, Athletics, Yankees, Brewers, Astros, Rays, and Red Sox have all won more consecutive contests this season.
In this winning streak, the Giants earned home field advantage in a possible one-game division tiebreaker with the Dodgers, enjoyed their first off day in over two weeks, went a perfect 6-0 on the road and won two bullpen games. They outscored their opponents 62-26 in the seven games.
SF (93-50) can clinch its first playoff berth since 2016 during the upcoming Padres series. They’re on a 105-win pace, which would be a San Francisco-era record. And Sunday’s 6-5 win over the Cubs was just another example of how formidable the Giants can be, even when they don’t play their best.
Wlimer Flores and Austin Slater, both in their first game back off the injured list, each recorded multi-hit games and tacked on RBI singles before the fifth inning came along. Flores’ second-inning single put the Giants on the board, and Slater’s — a sharply hit grounder too hot for third baseman Matt Duffy to handle — gave SF a 3-0 edge.
Meanwhile, Webb retired the first nine batters he saw, striking out four and inducing four ground-outs. His sinker and slider command was impeccable, and no Cubs hitter looked comfortable in the batter’s box.
But then in the bottom of the fourth, Webb allowed the first Chicago fly ball of the afternoon. Rafael Ortega skied a routine pop up to center field, but the Chicago wind carried it out toward the wall. Slater lost it in the sun — just as Mike Yastrzemski did a day prior — and the ball dropped onto the warning track for a leadoff triple. Two batters later, Ian Happ tagged Webb with a solo homer to deep center.
Yet Flores wasn’t done. With two outs in a full count in the top of the fifth, he stung a Jason Steele inside fastball into the left field bleachers. His 18th homer — matching his career-high — of the year scored Kris Bryant from third and gave Webb a 5-2 lead to work with.
Webb continued to deal, but his defense didn’t pick him up. Bryant and Slater crashed in right center on a should-be flyout in the fifth inning, which led to another Chicago run. Bryant was charged with an error as the Cubs lurked, trailing 5-3 after five.
The lack of communication on pop flies isn’t new for SF. Manager Gabe Kapler said his team has to get better at it after Darin Ruf slide-tackled Buster Posey on an infield pop-up in the first game of San Francisco’s road trip. There have been several issues in the outfield, too, mainly with outfielders failing to call off each other.
At the plate, too, the Giants had a myriad of chances to break the game open. They had 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position, but consistently stranded runners on base and hit into double plays. Then Webb walked Sergio Alcántara to leadoff the seventh inning, and allowed back-to-back RBI base hits.
But the Giants have consistently overcome mistakes to win games they don’t execute their finest in.
Webb exited after 81 pitches and four earned runs — the most he’s allowed since April 20, when he was still a young question mark in SF’s rotation. Webb looked on from the dugout with his teeth clenched as Tyler Rogers stranded the bases loaded with back-to-back strikeouts to preserve SF’s lead, 6-5.
Tony Watson worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning before handing the ball to Jake McGee for his 31st save.
San Francisco’s perfect seven-game stretch didn’t feel perfect Sunday, but it didn’t have to be as the Giants hung on.