Tag Archives: Matt Cain

Giant All-Stars

Today will be the first time in history that four All-Stars don black and orange (figuratively) on the field in the first inning of the mid-season classic. There have thrice been three Giants starters, most recently in 2001 when the front office strategy was to surround superstar Bonds with slightly lesser superstars. While there could easily be more Giants on that lineup, the four that made it each have their own great stories.

Pablo Sandoval is making a return appearance and brings a batting average of 1.000 into this game. While it’s his second appearance, it is his first start. Also, he got snubbed in 2009 when Shane Victorino was chosen by his own manager over Sandoval as a last minute injury replacement. Melky Cabrera gets to return to the stadium of a team that traded him away in the off season. I’m sure you are aware of how that trade went; Giants get a possible team MVP while the Royals get a pitcher who has only thrown 6 innings once this year, is on the DL, and likely would have been released or demoted to the minors by the Giants. It will be interesting to see the reception he receives.

Matt Cain has the third best story of these four. He has pitched in shadows most of his career, most recently in the shadow of Lincecum. He picked a good year to discreetly burst forth and is finally getting that national recognition he deserves. He even was an All-Star quietly, getting to two previous games but never pitching in them. In a rather controversial decision, he gets the starting nod over R.A. Dickey. By far the best story of the bunch is Buster Posey.  A little over a year ago, he was writhing on the ground with a broken leg and multiple ligaments torn. An injury that would have ended many careers, or been substantial setbacks at a minimum. Heck, I probably would have taken more rehab time to get back to my desk job than he did to get back into the crouch. He has shown very little trace of such a significant injury so far this year, and even has a stolen base (bringing his career total to 4). And now he is an All-Star, setting the record for number of NL All-Star votes. (Not that I’m keeping track, but Scott Cousins has hit .190 with Miami this year and is currently in the minors. Correction, Cousins is on the active Miami roster).

Near misses:

Ryan Vogelsong was just edged out for ERA leader by Ryan Dempster, who accumulated enough innings on his last start to qualify for the league leader board. But Vogelsong has been lights out since he came off the DL, and is now one of the top 4 pitchers in the NL (by ERA), all of whom were left off the All-Star roster. In fact, 7 of the top 10 pitchers (again, by ERA) are watching the game from their couch. Vogelsong is tied for second in the league for tough losses (losses despite quality starts) and leads the majors in quality start percentages at an amazing 94%. He has pitched into the 6th inning in every start so far this year. Just a teensy bit of extra run support and he would have likely been on the roster.

Santiago Casilla has been an amazing fill in closer. He is actually 3rd in the league in saves, with 21. However, he has somewhat imploded over his last 5 outings, with one save in 5 opportunities. That also raised his ERA from 1.59 to 2.84. I have to imagine that if he came in with to the break with a sub 2.00 ERA and three extra saves under his belt, he would also be on the roster.

Did anyone else catch the Old-timer and Celebrity game? I almost didn’t watch it, but at the last second I realized I had absolutely nothing better to do. I’m glad I did. It was much more entertaining than the HR Derby (and isn’t this all about entertainment?). It was also amazing and inspiring watching the wounded veterans out there playing ball.  And if I hadn’t watched it, I wouldn’t have seen Jon Hamm hit his HR. I thoroughly believe the only thing that would have made his trot around the bases better (as it is, he officially leads all major league players in HR trots) would have been a three-piece suit and a scotch on the rocks.

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Opposite Day at AT&T Park or The Love of the Baseball Gods

The Giant’s celebrated Opposite Day yesterday. The Board of Directors took tickets at the gate while the normal ticket takers sat in the owner’s box. People with club level seats were directed to the bleachers while the standing room only folk found themselves in the luxury boxes. Beers were given away for free, but the shirts that the Orange and Black Squad threw out into the crowd had to be paid for. On the field, Matt Cain struggled mightily with his control and gave up 4 runs with a season high 7 hits; but the team picked him up and got him a win. Manny Burriss made a great baserunning play by making a double play impossible allowing a run to score. The offensive outburst was led by the Brandons. The Giants batters walked an impressive 9 times with only 1 strikeout. The Cardinals drew only 1 walk with 8 strikeouts. And the Giants may not have won had it not for a bad fielding error.

No, this isn’t the latest Giants promotion, though maybe it should be. Yesterday morning, on the Murph and Mac show on KNBR, Sergio Romo said, “It’s gotta bounce our way sometime, right? Baseball gods have to love us at some point, right?” I think I might want Romo to be my new investment advisor. As he predicted, the Giants got some of that good luck that has been eluding them all season. Or you could attribute it to the hard work of some of the younger players who have put in lots of extra time with the coaches; correcting flaws in their swings and fine tuning their fielding. Either way, it worked.

The two young Brandons were a collective 4 for 8 with a walk, 3 RBIs, and 2 runs scored; and maybe most importantly, not a strikeout between them. That accounted for half the hits and RBIs of the whole team. Both hitters worked extensively with Bam Bam Meulens to fine tune their approach, which seems to be paying off. Another difference is that Crawford was batting in the two spot rather than right in front of the pitcher. This likely gave him more quality pitches to hit and maybe even a little confidence.

Matt “The Horse” Cain gave up 4 earned runs, his second highest of the season, and 11 baserunners, his highest by 3 on the season. He didn’t look great to start the game, giving up 7 hits and all 4 runs in the first 3 innings. Prior to yesterday’s start, the Giants offense has scored an average of 0.33 runs for each inning that Cain has pitched, or 2.99 runs for every 9 innings he pitches. Cain’s career average is 3.6 runs per 9 innings pitched (the MLB average during that time is 4.6 runs). However, yesterday the patched together lineup scored 5 runs in the 6 innings that he pitched (or 7.5 runs per 9 innings). And Cain, who is so often the victim of fielding errors, benefitted from Freese’s 6th inning throwing error that led to the go ahead run for the Giant, putting Cain in line for the win.

Some other oddities in the game last night;

  • 9 walks in one game for the G-men. They had drawn 95 walks in 37 games before yesterday, which averages to about 2.5 walks a game
  • There was only one strikeout; they’ve averaged almost 6.5 per game so far
  • Burriss, who is frustratingly bad at baserunning for a player whose speed is supposed to be his main asset, made a great move on the bases. Rather than running into an out at 2nd, he slowed up forcing Schumaker to chase him down for the out, eliminating the chance for a double play

I think the Giants got plenty of favor from the baseball gods in 2010. The roster was nearly devoid of any injuries to key players, and everyone got hot just when the team needed them to. Maybe that is why the team wasn’t graced in 2011, the Giants used up their allotted favor on the epic World Series run. For whatever reason, that favor seems to be back. Whatever baseball prayers the Giants are saying, whatever superstitions they are embracing, whatever ladies undergarments they are wearing…I hope they keep it up.

 

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