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Giants tie weekend series at 1...important last few weeks for Cubs

Marcus Stroman is excited for the Cubs future. "I think we're close." (Photo Maria Nevarez)

The San Francisco Giants wanted to set the tone for Bay Area teams visiting Chicago this weekend. A four run second inning capped off by a Marcus Stroman balk and a 400 foot two run bomb from Giants catcher Joey Bart did just that giving them a 4-1 cushion en route to a 5-2 win in front of 40.086 on a beautiful afternoon at Wrigley Field. "I didn't see what PJ (Higgins) did. I mean LaStella was just taking a big jump. LaStella jumped him early and Stro picked up and didn't realize if he heard step off or saw PJ. I think it was just one of those moments that you just gotta make the pitch and focus in on that and kinda forget about the base runner at that point," said Cubs manager David Ross about the Stroman balk that scored Giants second baseman David Villar to give them a 2-1 lead.

Stroman (3-7/3.91 ERA) echoed Ross' sentiments. "I lifted my leg and everyone yelled step off. I think I should've just delivered the pitch like I said. I think they were hoping I wasn't already in my leg lift but I had already been in my leg lift so yeah that's how it played out," he said. Stroman had a short afternoon as his outing was done after four innings. In his 200th major league appearance, he allowed four runs, seven hits and struck out four on 80 pitches. Prior to today, he posted a 2.49 ERA and limited opposing hitters to a .227 batting average over his last 11 starts. He said he felt good mechanics/stuff wise and this is just how baseball goes sometimes. "I felt good. One thing kinda trickled into the next. That's how baseball goes sometimes. Overall mechanics and everything felt fine. Things just didn't kinda get in tune and things just didn't get into the flow today."

Cubs reliever Sean Newcomb entered the game in the top of 5 in relief of Stroman and retired nine of the ten batters he faced keeping the Cubs within striking distance. Michael Rucker took over in the top of 8 and after a 4-6-3 double play, Villar said hello to the left field bleachers with a solo HR extending their lead to 5-2. Giants starter Logan Webb (13-8/2.88 ERA) had a strong showing and when he's grooving with that funky 3/4 delivery and not making many mistakes, he's difficult to attack. His seven inning six strikeout performance gave a struggling Giants team their 66th win of the season. Closer Camilo Duval notched his 21st save of the season as he fanned Alfonso Rivas looking to end the game. The three game series is tied at 1 and the Giants lead the season series 4-2 after taking three of four in San Francisco in July. Obviously this Cubs team isn't fighting for any type of playoff position but these last few weeks are very important for a LOT of guys on this roster. Guys like Nelson Velazquez and Christopher Morel would probably be better off developing in the minor leagues but they've gotten valuable experience in the BIGS (pun intended) during the Cubs first full rebuild season under the tutelage of Jed Hoyer. Then you've got Alfonso Rivas, Patrick Wisdom, David Bote, PJ Higgins, Rafael Ortega, Zach McKinstry and basically every arm in the bullpen trying to prove their worth moving forward. It will be an interesting off-season for Hoyer and Co. to see where they plug and play. Chairman Tom Ricketts said Hoyer has "a lot of flexibility" when it comes to the financial resources available in the off-season. Cubs fans continue to ask me why does David Ross keep running certain guys out there. It's obvious....he's trying to show the guys in charge what they DON'T HAVE versus what they do so they can make the proper moves and put him in the best position to succeed. When given something to work with, Rossy has shown he's very capable of leading the troops.

Rookie Christopher Morel has shown flashes but has a lot to learn (Maria Nevarez)

*Nick Madrigal was placed on the 10 day IL with a right groin strain..,Patrick Wisdom was reinstated. *Cubs radio announcer Pat Hughes & former Cub Jose Cardenal had their 2022 Cubs Hall Of Fame plaques revealed this morning.

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