The Cubs took an early lead against Kevin Gausman, scoring one run in the first. But Tommy La Stella and the Captain, aka Brandon Belt, roared back with a five-run second inning fueled by a two-run single from La Stella, followed by a three-run home run from Belt.
La Stella and Belt were a lethal one-two combo at the top of the order today, with La Stella going 3-for-6, scoring three runs and knocking in five, and Belt going 2-for-4, scoring two runs and knocking in three.
Now, I know that we as Giants fans have been spoiled in the category of single season home run numbers in the past, thanks to one Barry Bonds. But Belt’s home run today gives him the most home runs hit by a Giants player since 2013, when Hunter Pence hit 27.
Despite a grueling pace of play, Gausman went six innings, allowing eight hits, three runs, no walks, and striking out nine. With those nine strikeouts, Gausman has now not only surpassed his previous season high of 179 from 2017, but he’s passed 200.
It wasn’t necessarily all smooth sailing today, though. In the bottom of the third, Ian Happ hit a fly ball to center field, which Mike Yastrzemski lost in the sun, or the wind, or the ivy. Who can say, really. But it turned what should have been an inning ender into a two-run rally for Chicago.
Things got a little ugly in the bottom of the fourth as well. Jason Heyward survived two challenges to get to and keep first base, after a very close pick-off attempt was overturned. Gausman got the next two batters to strike out, but that’s when things took a turn. David Bote hit a single to Brandon Crawford, who attempted to jump over a sliding Heyward, but knocked his knee into Heyward’s jaw.
It was a scary scene, as Heyward was down on the ground for a while, being attended to by trainers. He was able to get up, with help, but he left the game looking quite disoriented. We certainly hope that he will be okay. That’s absolutely the last thing you want to see in any game, let alone one that isn’t exactly competitive.
Caleb Baragar entered in the seventh and finished the game for a three-inning save, allowing three hits, one run (in the ninth, to relief pitcher Scott Effross, who had to bat for himself because the Cubs had no one left on the bench), and one walk. It was the only walk issued by the Giants today.
The same definitely could not be said for the Cubs. Walks plagued the Cubs’ pitchers like the pace of this game plagued Rob Manfred. They walked 11 batters. They walked in two runs. They walked everyone except Tommy La Stella. They’ll be walking people in their dreams tonight.
Manuel Rodríguez pitched in the fifth and didn’t record an out, walking three, including a walk to Evan Longoria with the bases loaded. He was ultimately rung up for five runs in the Giants’ explosive six-run fifth inning, which featured a two-run single from Mike Yastrzemski and a three-run home run to La Stella.
Rex Brothers had slightly better results, only getting tagged with two runs, but he walked four out of the five batters he faced in the eighth inning. Thairo Estrada walked in Belt for an RBI, and Longoria got a sac fly to score Curt Casali for the Giants’ final runs of the day.
The high scoring affair allowed the Giants to pull Crawford and Kris Bryant early, as they were both dealing with wrist soreness, and Buster Posey, who’ll get some extra rest with Casali likely starting tomorrow.
The Giants hope to close out the series tomorrow with another sweep and an undefeated road trip.