This was a close game that never really felt that close. The Cubs never had more than a two-run lead, so a comeback was always theoretically possible, but the Giants had to scrape and claw just to keep the Cubs within reach. The Cubs only outhit the Giants 9-to-6, but Giants pitchers walked seven batters. One of those was intentional, but it’s hard to win when the team is issuing that many free passes.
As Tyler Beede prepared to throw his first pitch of the evening, Buster Posey set his target on the outside corner. Beede’s fastball didn’t go to the glove. Instead, it ran out over the middle of the plate. Heyward lined into an out, but that mistake to location didn’t bode well for the young righty. It didn’t take long for that ill omen to be consummated.
Beede threw another middle-middle fastball to Nicholas Castellanos and Castellanos put it in the basket. Beede handled Kris Bryant well, getting him to chase a slider out of the zone and ultimately freezing him with a fastball down and away. The pitch down and in to Anthony Rizzo wasn’t terrible. It was maybe higher than it should have been, but Rizzo deserves credit for beating it. It was a better pitch than Beede’s 0-1 curveball to Javy Báez which also went middle-middle. Beede was lucky that didn’t go onto Waveland.
The plan was to pitch Rizzo in the lower part of the zone, but I’m not really sure why. Rizzo crushes low pitches and you don’t need a heatmap to prove that. Just look at his swing.
Two at-bats, two homers for @ARizzo44. pic.twitter.com/WDNHQFwc3d— MLB (@MLB) August 21, 2019
It’s a classic golf swing. His bat was almost perpendicular to the ground when he made contact.
The Giants couldn’t get Rizzo out. Fernando Abad threw him another pitch in the lower third of the zone, and Rizzo mercifully singled on it. The Giants sent Rizzo on a cold streak when they played the Cubs in San Francisco, but the Giants caught him just as he was heating up again.
Rizzo wasn’t the only reason Beede had another disappointing outing. The last time Beede saw the Cubs he also gave up three homers, so they see him especially well. Tonight, the only Cubs who didn’t give Beede trouble were Tony Kemp and Cole Hamels. Beede kept Kris Bryant hitless through three at-bats, but even those at-bats were laborious.
The three home runs that Beede allowed raise his season total to 20. That’s a lot if he had thrown 180 innings, but Beede has thrown just 86 2/3. His HR/9 is 2.08, which even for 2019, is frightening. Beede’s spot in the rotation is up in the air, and this start was made on borrowed time. With Shaun Anderson coming back soon, Dereck Rodríguez looking sharp, and Logan Webb up, it’s hard to see Beede taking his next turn.
A couple of big hits kept this game close and a would-be hit might have stolen this game. Austin Slater tied the game at two with his first home run since July 12. With Slater’s opposite field power, I can’t help but wonder how many more homers he would have hit if he didn’t play half his games at a park with a 24-foot wall in right field and a 421-gap in right-center.
Austin Slater likes Wrigley.— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) August 21, 2019
When the Giants fell behind on Rizzo’s second homer, Pillar erased the deficit with a solo homer, his 18th of the year. Pillar is now just two away from being the first Giant with a 20-homer season since Brandon Crawford in 2015. With the way he’s been hitting lately, he’ll reach 20 before the Giants leave Chicago.
'Cause it's the fourth inning and this ball is jumpin', jumpin'.— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) August 21, 2019
Though what will actually happen is that Pillar will abruptly retire before he gets to 20 to take classes at iO and pursue his comedy career. The fellas in the dugout don’t call him Skit for nothing. He’ll get on an improv team named “Thunder Pigs,” and Charna Halpern will cut them for making a joke about dogs.
Mike Yastrzemski came within a few feet of giving the Giants a one-run lead, but the wind picked up in that half-inning and kept the ball in the yard. The Giants played two more innings after that, but they really didn’t need to. That was the Giants’ opportunity to win this game, but Yastrzemski had to hit it to the deepest part of the yard during the only time of the night the wind was blowing.
It seems to be the case that whenever the Giants almost tie or take a lead in a game, they immediately give up a run, and that’s what happened tonight. Andrew Suárez walked the first batter he saw on four pitches. Suárez appeared to get lucky when Báez lined out, but that corrected itself when Kyle Schwarber doubled on a one-armed poke swing. Suárez also got Tony Kemp to 0-2 but couldn’t put him away. That run was ultimately immaterial, but it really deflated any notion that the Giants would come back.
Madison Bumgarner made a pinch-hit appearance because the Giants don’t have any right-handed hitters on the bench. They also apparently don’t have any righties in the high-minors who are hitting well.
Jaylin “Infinity Gauntlet” Davis pic.twitter.com/Fj15fztWXt— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) August 21, 2019
Huh, how’d that get in there?
Anyway, with Pablo Sandoval going to see a specialist for his elbow, the options tonight were Alex Dickerson, Scooter Gennett, Stephen Vogt, and Brandon Crawford. You would think that one of those guys could hit a lefty better than Bumgarner, but you would be wrong.
Bumgarner drew a walk, bringing him to 4-for-10 with a double and three walks as a pinch hitter. If Bumgarner ever falls off as a pitcher, I could see him playing until he’s 42 as an ultimate pinch hitter like Matt Stairs or Jason Giambi in their later years.