Giants can't muster late-inning rally in 4-1 loss to Cubs
SAN FRANCISCO — Since the calendar turned to July, the Giants have played with such a high level of confidence that they arrive at the park on a daily basis with certainty.
The Giants have started to believe it’s no longer a question of if they’ll take over a ballgame and emerge victorious, but rather when they’ll do so.
On the rare day when a game-winning rally doesn’t materialize, when they turn in the kind of flat performance that was a staple of the first half of the season, it defies their own expectations.
That was the case in the Giants’ underwhelming 4-1 loss to the Cubs on Wednesday.
With two-out singles in the ninth from Donovan Solano and Alex Dickerson, the Giants brought the tying run to the plate against Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel. The magic that’s been on display for the last week at Oracle Park finally ran out, though, as Brandon Belt flew out to left field to end the game.
“Even at that time, you feel like something good is going to happen,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We came up a little short today, but the most important thing is we still got the tying run up there. We looked a little flat today.”
Rookie Tyler Beede’s marvelous start to the month came to a halt as he surrendered three home runs while an offense that’s made a habit out of producing late fireworks couldn’t provide a spark.
A deflating loss in a series the Giants already clinched is not enough to diminish what the club has accomplished over the last four weeks. The Giants are still 16-4 this month, still a threat in the National League wild-card race and still positioned to make another move in the standings with upcoming series in San Diego, Philadelphia and Denver.
An inability to sweep the first-place Cubs will make building a closing argument ahead of the July 31 trade deadline slightly more difficult, but the club is optimistic Thursday’s off day will serve the team well.
“They’ve got to be running on fumes,” Bochy said. “You look at their workload, the innings that they’ve played, this day off is coming at a good time. They were doing all they could to get this one, they just came up short.”
As the Giants try to convince president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi to keep their roster together for a late-summer postseason push, they’re trying to distance themselves from the moribund, depressing brand of baseball they played during the first two months of the season.
Competitive losses, late rallies and strong offensive performances will do that. Wednesday’s loss to the Cubs won’t.
The Giants initially appeared to catch a break Wednesday morning when the Cubs announced that starter Jon Lester needed to be scratched due to an illness. Instead of facing a pitcher with a 3.87 ERA, the Giants went up against righty Tyler Chatwood, who entered with a 4.30 ERA.
Chatwood didn’t have his best command in four innings against the Giants, but he escaped multiple jams and limited San Francisco to just one run in four innings of work. A Cubs bullpen that couldn’t hold up on Monday and Tuesday finished the job on Wednesday, as five relievers combined to throw five scoreless innings.