A day off came at an opportune time for the San Francisco Giants, who return home from a 2-5 road trip to begin a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. Having had the previous day to rest could prove beneficial as the Giants attempt to slow down the red-hot Cubs, who improved to 20-4 over their last 24 games when Kris Bryant belted a walk-off homer in Monday’s 2-1 win over Cleveland.
Bryant is batting .347 with six home runs in his last 20 games for the Cubs, who have won five straight and hold a 6 1/2-game lead over the Giants for the second National League wild-card spot. Chicago plays 17 of its next 23 games away from Wrigley Field and will be without right fielder Jorge Soler (oblique) and reliever Jason Motte (shoulder) for the next 3-4 weeks as both were placed on the disabled list Monday. The injury bug also has affected the Giants, who have struggled offensively without right fielder Hunter Pence (oblique) and second baseman Joe Panik (back). The Giants trail the Dodgers by 1 1/2 games in the NL West and need more production from Buster Posey, who is hitting .128 since Aug. 14.
TV: 10:15 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), CSN Bay Area (San Francisco)
LINE HISTORY: The Giants opened in the +115 range but are now around +136. The total has remained at 6.5.
INJURY REPORT: Cubs – 2B Addison Russell (Questionable, groin), RF Jorge Soler (15-day DL, oblique). Giants – CF Angel Pagan (15-day DL, knee), RF Hunter Pence (15-day DL, oblique), 2B Joe Panik (15-day DL, back).
WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the low-60s under partly cloudy skies. Wind will blow out to centerfield at around 14 miles per hour.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “In a major blow, the Giants were forced to put outfielder Hunter Pence on the DL for the third time this season with an oblique strain. The Giants are 34-18 in games in which Pence has played (vs. 32-40 without him).” Covers Expert Big Al McMordie.
Addison Russell’s girlfriend Melissa Reidy and Ryan Vogelsong’s wife Nicole
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (15-6, 2.30 ERA) vs. Giants RH Matt Cain (2-3, 5.66)
Arrieta improved to 9-1 in his last 12 starts with another stellar outing on Thursday, when he struck out seven over six scoreless innings of a 7-1 win over Atlanta. “He’s one of the best I’ve caught,” Cubs catcher Miguel Montero told reporters. “He’s a competitor. He’s a gamer. You can see the fire.” Arrieta held San Francisco scoreless over 7 2/3 frames on Aug. 9 and is 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA in three career outings against the Giants.
Cain held St. Louis to two runs in six innings on Wednesday after going 0-2 with an 8.24 ERA in his previous four starts. The 30-year-old has reason to be encouraged after retiring 11 of the final 13 batters he faced. Anthony Rizzo is 2-for-18 with eight strikeouts against Cain, who is 6-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 16 career starts versus Chicago but 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA over his last six at home in the all-time series.
* Cubs are 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Under is 9-1-1 in the last 11 meetings in San Francisco.
* Cubs are 21-5 in their last 26 overall.
* Giants are 13-3 in their last 16 games as a home underdog.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-two percent of Covers users are backing the visiting Cubs.