After splitting a four-game series in San Diego, the Chicago Cubs` schedule isn`t getting any easier, as they now have to face the NL West leading San Francisco Giants. The West Coast trip continues this afternoon at 3:05 CT, as Shark takes the ball for game one.
Yes, the Giants are in first place. Not the team with a payroll over $300 million, the San Francisco Giants. However, unlike their previous two championship teams, this squad is getting it done with the offense, more so than the pitching. Yesterday`s 8-1 rout of the Minnesota Twins was pretty indicative of the season the Giants are having, with Michael Morse continuing his resurgence with three doubles and 4 RBIs to raise his season line to a surprising .279/.335/.533. Hunter Pence also collected three knocks in the victory yesterday, raising his triple-slash to a robust .294/.369/.472.
Their offensive production isn`t just limited to those two obviously, as they have six guys with an OPS over .765: Buster Posey (.765), Brandon Crawford (.782), Angel Pagan (.804), Brandon Belt (.820, on the disabled list), then Pence (.841) and Morse (.868). Yeah, unlike in the past few years, Cubs pitching will have to be very careful with this Giants offense.
After scoring just 12 runs in four games at Petco Park, the Cubs will have another daunting pitcher`s park ahead at the beautiful AT&T Park. It doesn`t help that Starlin Castro, despite two hits and a homer last night, has complied just a .239/.255/.435 triple-slash in the past 14 games, but, Castro has been hitting it hard in those games, just right at the defenders (.231 BABIP).
Another Cub has been slumping, and that`s Anthony Rizzo. In the past 14 contests, Rizzo has managed to slash just .171/.408/.286. However, his OBP is still wonderful, starting the debate whether or not you want your number three hitter taking walks with little power (one homer in the past 14 days) and a low average, or if that .408 OBP still provides great value.
Rizzo is still mashing left-handers to this point, as in 63 plate appearances against southpaws Rizzo is slashing a terrific .294/.413/.549. With Rizzo`s excellent on-base skills and patience at the plate, he`s starting to look more like a poor man`s Joey Votto this season.
As Samardzija hopefully gets that elusive first win this afternoon (so everybody can stop talking about that worthless stat), we here at CubbiesCrib wish everyone a happy Memorial Day, and we thank those who have sacrificed, and continue to do so, to protect our freedoms.