Rewind: Susac, Ishikawa lead authentic effort to beat Cubs

Rewind: Susac, Ishikawa lead authentic effort to beat Cubs
August 20, 2014, 9:30 pm
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(Susac) has nice, easy power and to the opposite way, too. He’s got a good idea at the plate, he’s disciplined. He has a chance to be a nice hitter.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy

Programming note: Coverage of the Giants-Cubs suspended game from Tuesday begins Thursday at 1:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live. Another Giants Pregame Live will air at 4:30 p.m., taking you up to Thursday's scheduled 5:05 series finale.

CHICAGO – Andrew Susac hit his first big league home run Wednesday night. He has a souvenir ball in his possession that he'll cherish. Hey, it might actually be the one he hit.

A fan in the bleachers threw it back, as is the longstanding custom here, so it could be a decoy. Major League Baseball authenticators wouldn’t put one of their fancy hologram stickers on it.

Oh well. The intrigue only makes it a better story, right?

[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants pound Jackson, beat Cubs 8-3]

There wasn’t a lot of intrigue after the Giants raced out to an 8-2 lead in the fourth inning – except, maybe, whether a member of the Cubs grounds crew might accidentally lean against the sprinkler control panel. The Giants combined a victory off the field with another between the lines that was just as important, beating the Chicago Cubs 8-3. 

Prior to the game, they learned that Major League Baseball upheld the Giants’ protest stemming from Tuesday night’s game, which umpires had called a 2-0 Cubs victory after 4 ½ innings because of unplayable field conditions. It was the first upheld protest in 28 years.

“Jake Peavy came in here just after batting practice and said, `Hey, we’ve got two tomorrow. Let’s go for the sweep,” first baseman Travis Ishikawa said. “My first thought was, `Oh no, did we get rained out tonight?’”

Ishikawa was less slow on the uptake in the batter’s box. He hit a two-run double in the first inning and another RBI double in the third. The first one was an outside fastball he laced down the left field line. The second came on a down and in slider that he pulled into the right field corner.

He contributed smooth defense on a pair of line drives, and started an odd 3-5-1 double play that unfolded that way because the Giants were playing an infield shift on Anthony Rizzo.

Prior to the game, Bochy revealed that a concussion specialist recommended at least two to three more weeks of non-activity for Brandon Belt. So Ishikawa’s contributions were well timed.

[RELATED: After visiting with specialist, Belt's season could be over]

“He’ll be an important piece now,” Bochy said. “He’s a left-handed hitting first baseman with experience and a good glove out there. He knows me, he knows the staff. This is home for him. It’s a nice fit right now.”

Said Ishikawa: “It’s terrible to hear about Brandon. He’s a big part of this team.”

Ishikawa even finished the game in left field on a double switch; he’s played plenty of outfield for Triple-A Fresno, but his only previous time there in the majors was 3.2 innings for Milwaukee in 2012.

“Nothing was hit to me then,” said Ishikawa, who caught his first chance immediately upon changing positions in the eighth when Javier Baez lofted one his way. “It’s nice to get something to get that fielding percentage up there.”

Susac continued to get a major league education behind the plate, where Jake Peavy shaked plenty in the early innings. But the young catcher got a feel for what Peavy’s curveball could do and they were on the same page with the pitch in the later innings. Peavy definitely had to work through a few puzzles while limiting the Cubs to two runs in seven innings despite allowing 10 hits.

The rare burst of run support allowed Peavy to attack hitters – something he hasn’t been able to do often this season.

“That’s a great way to be able to pitch,” he said.

Bochy said it was great to see the players come out with so much life in a four-run first inning, after staying till after 1 a.m. the previous night while watching the grounds crew furiously rake away to no avail, unable to fix a field that had been  irreparably harmed by a 15-minute storm and a tarp malfunction that the Cubs took responsibility for inadvertently causing. 

[RELATED: Giants' protest upheld, Tuesday's game to be concluded on Thursday]

Susac’s two-run shot in the third inning helped to put Wednesday’s game away.

“I felt I put together a decent at-bat,” said Susac, who drilled a 1-1 fastball from Edwin Jackson the opposite way and into the right field bleachers. “I got ahead and got a good pitch to hit and didn’t try to do too much with it. 

“Bumgarner was making fun of me, saying, `Too bad you hit your first home run at a small, Mickey Mouse field like this.’”

Ishikawa saw enough of Susac at Fresno to realize he had a major league hit tool. Same for second baseman Joe Panik, who returned from a dislocated left pinky and banged out three hits.

“He’s got some pop,” Bochy said of Susac. “He’s only going to get better. This kid has nice, easy power and to the opposite way, too. He’s got a good idea at the plate, he’s disciplined. He has a chance to be a nice hitter.”

Now that’s the kind of raking that Bochy wouldn’t mind watching for two or three hours.

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