In an effort to secure their first four-game sweep of the Cubs since June 2012, San Francisco couldn’t capitalize on a strong first two innings Sunday afternoon, as they dropped the final contest of a six-game homestand in a 4-3 defeat to the Cubs.
For the eighth time in his big league career, Cubs crafty right-hander Kyle Hendricks took the ball against the Giants (37-22). And for the 26th time, veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto faced off against the Cubs (33-26). San Francisco’s offense battled Hendricks (7-4, 4.59 ERA) to plate three runs in the first two frames, but settled down as Chicago’s ace continued his strong success against the Giants by out-pitching Cueto (4-2, 3.70 ERA) and keeping hitters neutralized through 6 1/3 innings of work.
Patrick Wisdom –– a product of Saint Mary’s –– continued his historic tear by blasting two more homers (6, 7). The Giants had solid offensive contributions from LaMonte Wade Jr. (1-for-3, HR, 2 BB) and Buster Posey (3-for-4, 2B, RBI).
Wade Jr. put San Francisco on the board early in the home half with his first-career leadoff homer, an opposite-field blast to left that barely crept over the reach of a leaping Kris Bryant at the wall. Wade Jr. –– who is hitting .333 against right-handed pitchers this season –– now has more home runs (3) in fewer at-bats (37) with the Giants then he clubbed in 95 at-bats (2) with the Minnesota Twins in 2019 and 2020.
After Posey singled and Steven Duggar walked, Donovan Solano blooped a single to right-center field that fell softly in front of Cubs right fielder Jason Heyward, who ranks fifth among active players with 70 outfield assists. Despite the above-average arm, Giants third base coach Ron Wotus waved in Posey in, who scored standing up to extend the lead to 2-0. It took Hendricks 28 pitches to complete the bottom-half of the first.
In the top of the second, the Cubs gained a run back to make it 2-1 when Wisdom tagged a Cueto fastball 412 feet to center field for his sixth home run of the season in only 31 at-bats.
Mauricio Dubon led off the bottom half of the second with a double down the left field line, and later came around to score when Posey pulled in his hands and drove a ball into the right-center field gap for an RBI double and his second hit of the afternoon to make it 3-1. Alex Dickerson followed up with a line drive single to center, but Posey was thrown out trying to score from second by Cubs center fielder Ian Happ.
On having Posey back in 2021, Kapler said:
“We benefited so much from having Buster back and one thing that won’t get talked about at all is how incredibly tough he is. He took a foul ball off his hand –– almost directly off his hand –– he’s able to shake it off and stay in the game for us. He knows how big these moments are and I don’t think his grit, his physical toughness is talked about enough and he deserves to be seen as that type of player as well.”
Posey’s ongoing success at the plate has been reliant on his ability to use the opposite field. Two of his base hits on Sunday were to right field, while his first inning single was to center. Entering Sunday, Posey has pulled 28.9 percent of balls in play and has taken 22.1 percent of pitches to the opposite field.
Happ walked to start the top of the fourth inning and Wisdom continued his heroics by depositing his second home run of the game to straightaway center field to knot the score at 3-3. The long ball traveled 422 feet and came off the bat at 108.3 mph. Wisdom –– who crushed one 418 feet in Saturday’s game and has now homered three times in two games –– is now slashing .424/.457/1.121 with a 1.578 OPS since being called up May 25.
On the defeat, Kapler said:
It wasn’t a perfect game. It’s a game we expect to win and we need to find ways to win. Overall on the homestand, I thought we did a nice job.”
Chicago took the lead in the lead in the fifth when Hendricks doubled, Bryant singled, and Happ walked to load up the bases against Cueto. Javier Báez was next and bounced a slow-roller to Dubon at shortstop, who came home with a low throw that Posey couldn’t handle. Cueto departed in favor of left-hander Conner Menez, who struck out Heyward and Wisdom swinging to avoid any further damage.
Cueto finished with 4-1/3 innings pitched, allowing six hits, three earned runs, two home runs, two walks, while striking out four. He threw 78 pitches.
On his health and how he feels physically, Cueto noted:
“With every outing, I’m feeing better and feeling stronger.”
Menez, Dominic Leone, Jarlin García, and Zack Littell combined for 5-2/3 scoreless innings out of the Giants’ bullpen. In the ninth, veteran closer Craig Kimbrel set the Giants down in order to earn his 14th save of the season.
The Giants will embark on an off day on Monday and return to action on Tuesday to begin a two-game set against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field in Arlington. Left-hander Alex Wood (5-3, 3.48 ERA) will take the mound for the Giants against veteran right-hander Jordan Lyles. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m.
Ahead of Sunday’s game, third baseman Evan Longoria was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left shoulder sprain after his x-rays came back negative. His projected timetable of return is four to six weeks. He suffered the injury during an infield collision with Brandon Crawford –– who came out healthy –– in the ninth inning of Saturday’s victory against the Cubs. Infielder Thairo Estrada has been called up from Triple-A Sacramento. Kapler says the club plans to use a rotation at third base, with Wilmer Flores, Jason Vosler, and Estrada getting the majority of the playing time at the position. … First baseman Brandon Belt (left oblique strain) is expected to be activated from the injured list during the upcoming road trip to Texas and Washington. … Right-hander Aaron Sanchez (right bicep) will throw two innings in Sacramento on Monday a The Giants have acquired veteran catcher Bruce Maxwell from the New York Mets. Maxwell –– who rose through the Oakland Athletics system –– was 4-for-23 while playing for Triple-A Syracuse this season and should provide solid depth for the organization in the upper-minor leagues. … Crawford’s next appearance at shortstop will break the Giants’ franchise record for most games played at the position. He is currently tied with Travis Jackson, who played for the New York Giants from 1922 to 1936, with 1,325 games played at shortstop