Giants aim to continue ascent in opener vs. surging Cubs

MLB

The best team in baseball is set to visit one of the hottest when the San Francisco Giants open a three-game series at the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon.

The Giants (90-50) became the first team in the majors to reach 90 wins after they swept their three-game series at the Colorado Rockies earlier this week. They have the best record through 140 games since the team arrived in San Francisco in 1957.

“Nobody outside our clubhouse expected this year for us, so (90 wins) is definitely a nice benchmark,” Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford said. “We still have 20-some games to go, so the next benchmark would be 100, and we’re going to keep pushing for that and trying to win every game.”

The Giants haven’t sat 40 games over .500 since Sept. 7, 1993, when they improved to 89-49. San Francisco lost seven straight after that.

The Giants can’t afford a similar slide, as they are trying to fend off the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.

“We’re in a really good spot and we’ve worked really hard to get here,” San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said. “I think it’s also a good time to remember that we’ve got a long way to go and a lot of work to do.”

After getting their first day off since Aug. 23, the Giants will look to maintain their momentum on Friday. They will face a Cubs team that has won eight of its past nine.

The Cubs (65-76) are performing well in their role of spoilers down the stretch.

Chicago took two of three from the visiting Cincinnati Reds earlier this week, knocking them out of the second wild-card spot in the NL.

“I haven’t felt this energy in a really long time,” Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said.

The Cubs plan to send veteran right-hander Kyle Hendricks to the mound for the series opener.

Hendricks (14-6, 4.54 ERA) will be aiming to reach 15 wins for the second time in his career, but he’s had a tough time getting there lately.

Hendricks won 11 straight decisions during one stretch this season before dropping two of his past three.

Hendricks was roughed up for the second straight start on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowing six runs on five hits with three walks and two hit batters in 4 1/3 innings. He avoided another loss when the Cubs rallied for a 7-6 win.

“Just got to get back to executing better,” Hendricks said. “Everything feels good. I’m just not executing. Timing gets off and (I’m) just throwing way too many bad pitches.”

Hendricks is 5-2 in nine career starts against the Giants with a 2.37 ERA.

He faced the Giants in San Francisco on June 6 and earned the win after allowing three runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.

The Giants plan to use a cast of relievers in the series opener.

San Francisco might need to find a short-term replacement for right fielder Mike Yastrzemski, who leads the team with 22 home runs. He sustained an ankle contusion when he hit a foul ball off his right ankle in the eighth inning on Wednesday and was later removed.

Kapler said Yastrzemski is day-to-day.

–Field Level Media

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