The Giants fell just short of making history, but they did defeat the Cubs on Wednesday 5-0 in the rubber match of the series.
San Francisco starter Tim Lincecum labored right out of the gate, throwing 32 pitches and walking two in the top of the first. He was able to work out of it, however, and that became the theme of the game for the right-hander. It wasn’t a pretty start by any means, but Lincecum (4-3, 4.18) gutted out five innings of no-hit ball, walking four and striking out five on 96 pitches (52 strikes). Manager Bruce Bochy was still happy with the start Lincecum gave the team.
“I thought he had real good stuff. He just missed on some pitches that were real close, but I thought it was a really good game for him, I think much improved from even his last game, which was a pretty solid game, in the fact that he was in the area a little bit more.”
He was replaced by George Kontos (1-0), who kept the no-hitter going for another inning and a third and was credited with the win when the Giants offense finally woke up in the bottom of the sixth.
Angel Pagan led off with a double, and Hunter Pence followed up with a walk. Pablo Sandoval continued to come out of his slump with an RBI single, putting the Giants on the board and extending his hitting streak and his RBI streak to eight games. Tyler Colvin extended the lead to 2-0 with a two-out RBI double. Bochy says that Sandoval is fun to watch right now.
“He’s a good hitter, and good hitters get in the zone. They’re fun to watch. He’s thrown out some good at bats…Pablo’s been the guy that’s really come through for us. I mean, the whole lineup, we’re getting contribution, but he seems like he’s in such a good zone right now. He’s the guy you want up there with men on base.”
But the Giants weren’t done with the two-out RBIs, as they broke the game wide open in the bottom of the seventh. Gregor Blanco led off the inning with a single, moved to third on a bunt by Pagan, and scored when Cubs first baseman Mike Olt misplayed a groundball off the bat of Buster Posey. After an intentional walk to Sandoval, Hector Sanchez crushed a two-run double to the gap in left-center, making it 5-0 Giants. Sanchez is now eight-for-his-last 14 with runners in scoring position, and San Francisco has scored a league-leading 106 runs with two outs in 2014. Sanchez is also now three-for-three on the season after the guy in front of him is intentionally walked, and it’s a role he likes.
“It’s what I was looking for in that situation, to bring the runners in…not trying to do too much, and you see the result…probably that was the best situation. You want to be the hero.”
Jeremy Affeldt finally surrendered a hit to the struggling Cubs when John Baker singled with one out in the top of the seventh, breaking up the combined no-hitter. Chicago hadn’t been no-hit since Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game against them in 1965, the longest streak in the Majors. Juan Gutierrez allowed a single to Anthony Rizzo in the eighth, but that’d be all the offense the Cubs could muster. The 19-32 team has scored three runs or less in 29 of their 51 games. They’re 0-19 when scoring two runs or less.
On the other hand, the Giants strengths were all on display on Wednesday. They’re now 26-5 when scoring first in a game and continue to win at home (19-9 at AT&T). San Francisco’s pitching also continues to impress. After Lincecum’s five scoreless innings, Giants starters now have a 1.78 ERA in their last ten starts. The bullpen collected its 14th win (second in the Majors) and lowered its collective ERA to 2.31 (third-lowest in the Majors).
It was a win the Giants way, and it helped them to a 34-19 record, the best in baseball. They’ll travel to St. Louis to begin a four-game set on Thursday night against the Cardinals. Jaime Garcia (1-0, 4.26) will take on Ryan Vogelsong (3-2, 3.20) at 5:15 PST.
Pence had his scooter returned to him by the SFPD in the middle of the game. His scooter was stolen on Sunday night, and San Francisco has really rallied around him to help him find it. He’s very thankful to everyone who helped.
“Thank you, fans and media, for helping me do this. And BatKid. I definitely wanted to thank the BatKid for keeping the streets of San Francisco clean.”
Pence has already ordered a new one, so he said that he probably plans to auction off the new scooter for charity.
“This was like a ‘together we are Giant’ type of story, where everyone had my back, so maybe we can use this scooter to raise some money for charity.”