WRIGLEY FIELD — Mother Nature stayed out of baseball’s way Wednesday night on the North Side of Chicago, as the San Francisco Giants routed the Chicago Cubs 8-3 in Game 2 of this three-game set.
Almost a polar opposite of Tuesday’s matchup, the bats were expected to be alive with Jake Peavy (W, 3-12, 4.55 ERA) and Edwin Jackson (L, 6-14, 6.09 ERA) on the hill.
And boy were they electric — at least one side.
San Francisco hung crooked numbers on Edwin Jackson in the first and the third behind the power of seven extra-base hits, while Jake Peavy pitched seven solid innings earning his second win in orange and black.
Despite the absence of Buster Posey, the Giants jumped on Jackson early. After back-to-back singles to open the contest, Pablo Sandoval hit a sacrifice fly to center plating Angel Pagan for the game’s first run.
Following a walk by Michael Morse, it was apparent Edwin Jackson was in for yet another rough outing. After an RBI single to left center by rookie second baseman Joe Panik, a series of boos rained in from the stands.
One batter later, Travis Ishikawa roped a double into the left field corner to give the Giants a 4-0 lead. A strikeout and flyout would get Jackson out of the inning, but not before tossing 33 pitches.
On the other hand, Jake Peavy made sure the Cubs didn’t respond in the bottom half of the inning, bouncing back after a leadoff single to send the Cubs down in order, minimizing his pitch count to only eight.
Bochy appreciated the lead and the fight Peavy showed:
“I don’t know if a guy like Jake needs confidence. He battles and was going to battle with or without the runs. The extra cushion is always good though.”
Jackson would follow suit, though, seeming to settle in by sending the top of San Francisco’s lineup down in order and giving Chicago the chance to claw back in the bottom of the second.
Luis Valbuena, batting cleanup in place of All-Star Starlin Castro, led off the inning with a triple into the right field corner, his fourth of the season. After retiring two consecutive hitters, it looked as though Peavy would get out of the inning unscathed.
However, Chris Valaika got a hold of a 3-2 pitch on the outer half of the plate and sent his first home run of the season into the left field bleachers, scoring Valbuena and putting Chicago on the board 4-2.
The top of the third inning proved Edwin Jackson’s strong second to be merely an outlier. Doubles by Michael Morse and Travis Ishikawa extended the San Francisco lead to 5-2 and sent Jackson reeling off the tracks.
Posey’s replacement Andrew Susac added insult to injury with a two-run homer — the first of his big league career — on a 1-1 pitch, officially breaking the game open.
Susac joked after the game what it felt like to hit his first Major League home run:
“The guys gave me shit about hitting it in a smaller park, I’m not sure it would have been out at AT&T, but really it felt good. I got ahead in the count and just wanted to get a good swing on the ball.”
A Brandon Crawford double and a Jake Peavy strikeout would spell the end of Jackson’s night. The righty left after 2-2/3 innings, surrendering seven runs on eight hits and two walks.
By the fourth, it was crystal clear the Giants’ bats weren’t messing around.
Hunter Pence led off the Giants’ half with a solo shot, his 17th of the season, into the left field porch. And after Pablo Sandoval ripped another Giants’ extra-base hit, it appeared the Wrigley faithful had lost all interest as fans began to head towards the exits.
Amidst the scorching Bay Area bats, the story of the night was the Cubs’ incompetence to advance runners. Their inability to capitalize on leadoff hits, and knack for grounding into the double play really allowed Jake Peavy to find his groove in the middle innings.
The veteran righty retired six-straight Cubs before an Anthony Rizzo single with one out in the sixth, striking out the side in the fifth in the process.
Back-to-back base hits in that sixth inning gave the Cubs new life even for just a brief moment, but Peavy shut the door quickly, striking out Arismendy Alcantara to end the inning.
Travis Ishikawa added another single in the top of the seventh off Wesley Wright, making the lefty three-for-four with two doubles, and three RBI’s on the night.
Peavy would exit the game after throwing 111 pitches in seven innings, giving up only two runs, striking out eight Cubs and surrendering no walks.
Juan Guttierez would spell Peavy in relief, surrendering a two-out home run to Luis Valbuena in the eighth.
As the innings wore on, the Chicago bullpen battled where Edwin Jackson could not. Carlos Villenueva, Wesley Wright and Kyuji Fujikawa combined to give up only one run while striking out eight in 6-2/3 innings of relief, providing a bit of silver lining in an otherwise brutal outcome for the North Siders.
With this win the Giants (66-58) move within 3-1/2 games of the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers with a chance to steal two more wins at Wrigley tomorrow.
After winning their protest of Tuesday night’s rainout, the Giants and Cubs will finish Game 1 of the series starting at 2:05 p.m. PDT before Madison Bumgarner (13-9, 3.14 ERA) and Travis Wood (7-10, 4.86 ERA) battle for the series finale at 5:05 PDT.