Monday, August 6, 2012

The Final Fifty-Four

1st inning: 9-9
2nd inning: 9-9
3rd inning: 12-6
4th inning: 10-8
5th inning: 10-8
6th inning: 9-9

Sunday's win behind Timmy in Colorado finished the first two-thirds of the season (Game 108). It was a bit of a rough patch, that 6th inning, and tonight's affair was the first of the 7th inning and the first of the final third of the season. The Dodgers won't be gentlemen about it, they have no intention of letting the Giants have the last dance to themselves. They are going to have to be called outside for an ass-whuppin' before the good guys get the goods. It's going to require everyone on the team to step up and be studly. With Tim Lincecum emerging and Pablo Sandoval returning one can feel good about the Giants chances.

Then there's Matt Cain. It's no secret he has not been the same guy since El Perfecto. He made a nice splash in the All-Star Game, as did the rest of the orange-and-blackers, but the starts since then have not been up to snuff. To wit:
Date    Opp Rslt    IP   H  R ER BB  SO HR HBP  BF GSc
Jun18   LAA W5-3   5.0   6  3  3  4   4  1   1  25  43
Jun24   OAK L2-4   7.0   3  1  1  2   7  0   1  26  72
Jun29   CIN L1-5   6.2  11  5  5  1   7  2   0  32  38
Jul5    WSN L5-6   6.2   6  3  3  1   4  2   0  26  53
Jul15   HOU W3-2   6.1   5  2  1  1   6  0   0  25  62
Jul21   PHI W6-5   8.0   5  5  5  2   4  3   1  30  54
Jul27   LAD L3-5   7.0   9  3  3  0   2  0   0  29  49
Aug1    NYM L1-2   5.0   7  2  2  3   5  1   0  23  47

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 8/6/2012.

Now that's some pretty good pitching. For most guys, that is. 51-2/3 IP, 52 H, 24 R, 39 SO, 14 BB, and  9 HR over 8 starts will get you a regular gig in the majors (52 average Game Score). But Matt Cain is no longer just another regular. He's earned the right to be paid like an ace and to be treated like an ace and that means he now has to pitch like one. (Matt gave up 9 total home runs 2011, for example.) It's not like any of these starts were Zitovian meltdowns, although last week against the Mets came damn close if not for some lucky breaks and good fielding. Tonight was about as close to a meltdown as Cain gets. All players go through rough patches, and if this is as rough as it gets for Matty I can hardly complain. But stretch drive is here. The pennant race is on. This is when it gets decided. The Giants will have to get Master Cain back out there for the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Tonight in St. Louis against an excellent hitting squad our boy could not finish the job. He'd get to two strikes or to two outs (or both) and give it up. They wore him down and chased him in the 6th with a patient, relentless attack. Normally we see Matt hold his own and get those big outs, but this is not the same Cain we watched in the first half of the season. Is he tired? Hurt? Or just on the bottom end of a long slump? We never have the answers to those questions, do we? There's a lot more on big righty's shoulders these days. It used to be nobody noticed, and when they did, they undervalued what they saw. You win a World Series ring, an All-Star Game, and pitch a perfect game, people pay more attention. Teams pay more attention. (Not to mention the gargantuan contract and the scrutiny that comes with that.) The marquee name on the squad has a rough first half, the second name on the list gets bumped up. It's the big leagues, you can fly under the radar for just so long. Looks like everyone has Matty in their sights right now. He's going to have to fine tune that out-making machine real soon, and get back to delivering the kind of starts he's spoiled us with so many times before.

7th inning: 0-1, 17 to play.



nomisnala said...

Its hard to say what is going on. If he is not hurt, than I am not too worried. Teasms seem to be purposely fouling off close pitches to try to move his pitch count upward. They do that to Timmy too. Time to grit up, and pitch like the Cain of the first half of the season.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Yeah, I really think he's just gotten more attention by advance scouts, hitting coaches, etc. Guys are coming into games with a plan against him. We saw this with Tim--the league adjusted to what he was throwing and he had to adjust to that. Matt will have to do the same thing. Maybe he and Buster have gotten too predictable in their sequences.

Shankbone said...

These are some of my favorite RMC posts. The 12-6 streak was the start of the Blanco hot streak coupled with Pagan. Without Casilla imploding they would have had another 12-6 and ended even. The Giants have been very consistent this year, just no big winning streaks - they just capped their best winning streak with their worse losing streak. C'est la guerre. I think the pitching and defense has been the weak spot for the most part, the offense has shown up enough.

That league adjusting sounds right. Pitchers need to buck up. Hope this LOOGY we snuck through waivers has his work cut out. Don't the rest of bezball know those guys cost 5MM? Pretty good coup for Sabey Sabes if he can hack the national league.

Ron said...

We need right-handed relief pitching. If people are going to run up the pitch counts of our starters (always a good strategy), then we need some guys to come in & pitch to more than a couple of batters. Mijares may be great, but we need a right-handed one to two innings guy. Right now, we have a bunch of one to two batter guys, many of whom are either physically broken down or going through some difficulties or both. Roy Oswalt seems all pissed off right now ... let's get him.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Everything I gather about Oswalt is that he doesn't like relieving.

JC Parsons said...

I, too, really enjoy these "inning" posts. I was not aware of just how consistent we really are until I saw those numbers. I sure love those 12 win "innings".

I guess we do need another righty to get through the month. Hensley hasn't been as good as I hoped but maybe he will finish well. Of course, if the starters can rip off a few quality starts in a row, we won't have to worry as much.

BTW I'm not worried about Matt. He'll be there at the end.

M.C. O'Connor said...

So far no other bloggers have picked up on my "seasonal innings" notion, and I've no doubt that when they finally do MLB will dump the 162-game schedule! In the meantime it will be our very own RMC-thang.

No doubt Matty will find his groove again, just like Timmy.

Zo said...

It does seem like Matt is a bit tired, although Bochy said that he was neither tired nor hurt. I have no doubt that he can get it together. We got a gift from the Rox, but couldn't get a win to use it.