Rapid Reaction: Cubs 2, Giants 1

July, 28, 2013
7/28/13
5:59
PM CT
By Kevin Lynch
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
SAN FRANCISCO -- A quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 2-1 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday at AT&T Park.

How it happened: Things could not have gotten any more bizarre at AT&T Park in the Cubs' last two games. By the fifth inning Sunday, the starting pitchers were 2-for-2, including a solo home run by Cubs starter Travis Wood. The rest of the hitters for both teams had collected two hits at that point, both by Cubs position players. Another strange twist? The Cubs recorded four put-outs at home plate in a seven-inning span against the Giants including Saturday night's eighth and ninth innings. Additionally, the Cubs nearly averted a second bases-loaded jam. Reliever Pedro Strop dug out out of a bags-loaded, no-outs situation in the eighth inning of the Cubs' 1-0 Saturday night win. Faced with the same scenario in the fifth inning Sunday, Chicago pulled off the highly-unusual third-to-home double play. However, the next Giants hitter, Pablo Sandoval, doubled home a run with two out. The Cubs ruined an otherwise fine outing by the mercurial pitcher Tim Lincecum, who went seven innings and allowed four hits. However two of them were solo home runs, one by Wood and another by No. 8 hitter Welington Castillo in the seventh. On the mound, Wood pitched seven innings and allowed one unearned run.

What it means: The Cubs’ sweep means the Giants and Cubs are going in distinctly directions both on and off the field. The Cubs, who began the series in a virtual tie with the reigning World Series champs, are doing a brisk sell off. Pitchers Matt Garza and Scott Feldman and outfielders Scott Hairston and Alfonso Soriano have all recently been moved. Meanwhile, the Giants are standing pat for now, and it seems as if main pieces in outfielder Hunter Pence and Linecum are staying. Even with their crumbling World Series lineup and pitching staff, the Giants feel no need to re-stock a depleted farm system, while the Cubs are being aggressive by trading for prospects and cash to make future deals. The Cubs looked clearly younger and hungrier throughout the series. They ran bases with more speed, and, despite third baseman Luis Valbuena's error at third on Sunday that led to an unearned run, they also fielded better that the porous Giants.

Outside the box: The Cubs surpassed their 2012 total for road wins with Friday night's victory at AT&T Park. They also finished their West of the Mississippi road swing at 6-4. "To be guaranteed 500, I don't care how good a team you are, to be 500 or a chance to be a little better, that is being a little ahead of the game," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said before Sunday's 2-1 get-away victory. The Cubs are now 26-29 on the road this season after finishing 23-58 in road games last year. Chicago has also been one of the hottest teams the National League since May 26. Their .545 winning percentage trails only the Dodgers, Cardinals and Pirates.

Up next: The Cubs return home to open a seven-game homestand with a doubleheader against Milwaukee. Cubs will throw up right-hander Carlos Villanueva against Yovani Gallardo in Game 1 and then go with freshly called-up fireballer Jake Arrieta against a yet-to-be-named starter.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Jake Arrieta
WINS ERA SO IP
10 2.53 167 156
OTHER LEADERS
BAS. Castro .292
HRA. Rizzo 32
RBIA. Rizzo 78
RA. Rizzo 89
OPSA. Rizzo .913
ERAT. Wood 5.03
SOJ. Arrieta 167