7 4 1 1 4 5
Matt Cain managed to keep Papa Loss-ba away today, and he pitched well enough to have Papa Win-ba take possession of him. Always nice to get an unexpected clutch, dramatic, studly three-run homer to help out your cause, eh? It was after that they called the game on account of the locust plague, right? My radio went to static--what did yours do?
Matt gave us a splendid little show of "three times through" today. He threw 103 pitches (67 strikes) at 27 batters, facing the starting nine three times each. This just has me all a-twitter (no, not that twitter) because of Chris' way cool graph over at BCB on Friday. No, not the Barry Zito graph, the other one, Times Facing Opponent in Game.
Matt has a problem. First time through the lineup (2008 stats), teams produced well below a league-average OPS against our youngster. The second time through they did a little better, but still well below average. The third time through Matt gave it up. Team OPS numbers against Matt were at least 10% above league average, a jump of over 30% from the previous plate appearance. Tonight that wasn't the case. Matt's first nine batters went 1-for-8 with a walk--hitting a solo homer. Two strikeouts and a .125/.222/.500 line for a .722 OPS. The next nine went 2-for-7 with 2 walks and a .286/.444./.286 line, a .730 OPS. The final nine plate appearances produced a hit and a walk for a paltry .125/.222/.125 line, a miniscule .347 OPS. Three of those 27 outs were the pitcher, Jon Garland, including of course the strikeout to end Matt's start. (Funny that Melvin didn't pinch hit there.)
I figure Matt had some good voodoo working for him in that little homer-happy ballpark. The walks didn't hurt him. He only got 6 groundballs, but the fly balls (other than the HR) didn't hurt him either. And he even got some swinging Pablito voodoo to end the run support curse! Matt Cain with run support? Look out National League!