All 10 Times the Cubs-Giants Game Appeared Over

Here on FanGraphs, we host live, interactive win-expectancy graphs for every game, and they usually don’t look like this:


It’s rare for any one of these graphs to stretch 13 innings. It’s rare for the team in complete control for innings six through eight to wind up losing the game. It’s rare for the biggest play in regulation to read “J Arrieta Home Run.” It’s rare for there to be such a large and sudden spike at the end. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that parabolic shape in the middle before.

Game 2 of the National League Division Series between the Giants and Cubs was bonkers. Let’s address all 10 times it looked like it might be over.

No. 1 – First inning


If you’re an extremist, this thing might’ve looked over before it started. Sure, the Cubs were up two games to none in the series and had clearly looked like the better team thus far, but this is Madison Bumgarner we’re talking about, whose soul exits the body and watches over its human figure pitching from above during the postseason. I don’t know why that little box is showing regular-season stats over on the right. The more compelling graphic would’ve been the postseason version, which just consists of “as many as there are” in the games and innings columns and a bunch of zeros in the rest.

Actual win expectancy: 54%, Giants

Perceived win expectancy: EvenYearBumgarner%, Giants

No. 2 – Second inning


But then Cubs starting pitcher and Wolverine stunt double Jake Arrieta donged all over the postseason’s immaculate pitcher, and suddenly we were reminded that even Bumgarner can be beaten, and that for all the amazing games he’s had in the playoffs, he had a 6.00 ERA in the 2012 postseason, and his career playoff peripheral numbers are really no more impressive than his regular-season peripherals. Bumgarner’s postseason story is a thing of legends, but that makes him no less human, and Jake Arrieta no less a man, and if you spot Jake Arrieta a three-run lead, the Cubs are going to win more often than not.

Actual win expectancy: 80%, Cubs

Perceived win expectancy: 80%, Cubs

No. 3 – Sixth inning


By this point, in the grand scheme of things, not much has else has happened. The Giants have tacked on two runs to pull within one, but their season has also pulled four innings closer to being over, so the win expectancy hasn’t much changed. But then, controversy struck. Conor Gillaspie hit a ground ball to Javier Baez, who made a fantastic play, but whose throw definitely did and definitely did not pull Anthony Rizzo’s foot off the first base bag, which was confirmed by New York after a replay review. It could’ve been a leadoff single, but it was instead a 1-2-3 inning, and while in hindsight the decision appears somewhat inconsequential — for what it’s worth, the next batter, Brandon Crawford, grounded into what would’ve been a double-play ball, though of course the entire timeline of events would change were Gillaspie to be ruled safe — it caused baseball Twitter to melt down and begin questioning whether everything we know is a lie in a sort of baseball-centric ego death.

Actual win expectancy: 68%, Cubs

Perceived win expectancy: 0%, anybody, if baseball as we know it is a lie and ceases to exist

No. 4 – Eighth inning


Now we’re in the eighth inning, and things have gotten intense, as Joe Maddon has brought in Aroldis Chapman for a six-out save, up by two runs with the go-ahead run on first base after Travis Wood and Hector Rondon each put a batter on to lead off the inning. But, fear not, Conor Gillaspie is at the plate, and two more lefties follow him. Chapman’s allowed a .237 on-base percentage to lefties in his career. Gillaspie has a .226 OBP against lefties in his career. Look at how Gillaspie is holding the bat! One hand, bat hanging down. Can’t even swing from that position.

Actual win expectancy: 63%, Cubs

Perceived win expectancy: 92%, Cubs

No. 5 – Eighth inning


Conor Gillaspie hit that ball. Aroldis Chapman threw that ball. Aroldis Chapman threw that ball 102 mph and then Gillaspie hit it near the sign that indicates you’re standing 421 feet away from home plate, where the ball was struck. Here’s a spray chart showing all fastballs put in play by left-handed batters against Chapman this year, before Gillaspie:


And then here’s a list of every pitch Gillaspie had ever seen above 100 mph in his career before that one:


Actual win expectancy: 92%, Giants

Perceived win expectancy: nothing can go wrong!

No. 6 – Ninth inning


That’s Giants closer-turned-set-up-man-turned-middle-reliever-turned-set-up-man-turned-closer Sergio Romo. On the one hand, the Giants had a 5-3 lead in the ninth inning, and there’s a graphic there giving us a very arbitrarily selected, but I guess somewhat encouraging, split for Romo. On the other hand, the notorious Giants bullpen nearly led the league in a statistic called “Meltdowns,” so anyone who watched enough Giants games this year knows to never feel safe with a lead that can be erased in one swing.

Actual win expectancy: 94%, Giants

Perceived win expectancy: 99%, Giants, if you read the graphic and didn’t watch Giants games this year, 49%, Giants, if you did watch Giants games this year

No. 7 – Ninth inning


You’ll notice that there’s more baseball being played, because Romo added another Meltdown to the Giants’ ledger by walking Dexter Fowler and giving Kris Bryant a slider middle-middle, which Bryant did what he does to middle-middle sliders. But then! Brandon Belt walked in the bottom of the ninth and Buster Posey hit a ball, which you see above, that goes for a hit three-quarters of the time. If it goes for a hit, Almora is laying on the ground and Belt is likely trying to score from first. It did not go for a hit, because Albert Almora is amazing.

Actual win expectancy: 62%, Giants

Perceived win expectancy: 97%, Giants, for like three more tenths of a second

No. 8 – Tenth inning


This is Conor Gillaspie batting. He is glowing. When Conor Gillaspie bats, good things apparently now happen, and the Giants only needed one more good thing to happen to win, and that’s the only reason we need for the game to appear over at this point.

Actual win expectancy: 57%, Giants

Perceived win expectancy: 100%, Giants

No. 9 – Twelfth inning


This is Mike Montgomery batting. He is not glowing, but he is a pitcher. When Cubs pitchers bat, good things apparently now happen, and the Cubs only needed one more good thing to happen to win, and that’s the only reason we need for the game to appear over at this point.

Actual win expectancy: 59%, Giants

Perceived win expectancy: 100%, Cubs

No. 10 – Thirteenth inning


I made sure to wait until after Brandon Crawford stepped on home plate, because even though the ball may have still been rolling around in the outfield, it didn’t feel like this one was over until it was official. Crawford doubled, and then Joe Panik doubled, and the Giants won a game that had already looked like it was over nine times in the previous 12.5 innings.

Actual win expectancy: 100%, Giants

Perceived win expectancy: 100%, Giants

The Giants’ win expectancy, for the series, is now 31.2%, or roughly the same as it was when Conor Gillaspie was facing Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning.

August used to cover the Indians for MLB and, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at

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Craig Tylemember
7 years ago

Here are my two questions on this game:

1. Why didn’t Crawford try to score in the 8th on Blanco’s ground out? Rizzo flips to the pitcher, who has his back to the plate – Josh Donaldson would have scored, no?

2. How much did Joe Maddon’s overmanaging hurt the Cubs? He made a lot of substitutions for no significant advantage, and then had no bench. Why pull Zobrist in particular?

7 years ago
Reply to  Craig Tyle

Pulling Zobrist was to get Heyward’s glove in the game. Personally, I was hoping to see Heyward start and play the whole game in RF. You can talk about overmanaging, but the Cubs didn’t knock out Madbum when they had the chance.

7 years ago
Reply to  cornflake5000

Zobrist was actually pulled as part of a double-switch when Mike Montgomery entered the game, which made sense – the Cubs only had one other reliever left, and Maddon didn’t want to put himself in a situation where he might need to burn Montgomery for a pinch-hitter after only an inning.

Dave T
7 years ago
Reply to  Craig Tyle

Zobrist had to be double-swiitched to move Montgomery’s spot in the order because otherwise Montgomery was due to hit 4th in the 10th inning. Montgomery was clearly going to need to go multiple innings because Edwards was the only unused reliever left.

His problem was when he started double-switching around the pitcher’s spot in the 7th, which is how Heyward ended up as a one inning defensive replacement after Chapman came in during the 8th. Chapman coming in necessitated another double-switch. Maddon ended up doing all that to keep Wood in for 1 more hitter (Belt). Belt, BTW, has essentially no platoon split at all for his career. If Chapman was possibly going to enter in the 8th, I think that the better move was just to put Heyward in Soler’s spot and then plan either to PH for Wood (due up fourth in the top of the 8th, which is when Heyward ended up hitting) or to double-switch if Chapman came in during the 8th but the pitcher’s spot had not hit during the 8th.