Giants keep winning the close ones, sweep Houston

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It didn’t take 12 innings, like Saturday’s game did, but the Giants edged the Astros 3-2 for the second straight game Sunday, with Matt Cain picking up his 10th win in the process.

Cain, facing the Astros for the first time since he pitched a perfect game against them last month, allowed two runs — one earned — in 6 1/3 innings.

The Giants are now 49-40 this season, even though they’ve been outscored by three runs.

They’re one of three teams playing on the opposite side of their run differential:

Giants: 49-40 – 346 RS, 349 RA – (3)
Orioles: 46-42 – 361 RS, 400 RA – (39)
Indians: 45-43 – 395 RS, 425 RA – (30)

The big factor there: the Giants are 20-13 in one-run games. In fact, the Orioles, Indians and Giants (in that order) have MLB’s best winning percentages in one-run games this season.

There aren’t currently any teams under .500 with a positive run differential, though the Red Sox have fit that description for much of the season. They’re currently 45-44 with 438 runs scored and 395 runs allowed (+43). The Diamondbacks have exactly as many runs scored as runs allowed (377) and they’re 42-46.

The Rangers, at +73, have baseball’s best run differential, with the Yankees second at +68. Those are also the two teams with the best records in baseball. The Twins have the worst run differential at -96. The Astros, with baseball’s worst record, are second at -77.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”