7 6 5 5 4 9
Game Score 50
Things looked good for Matt Cain last night before he even took the hill. Pablo Sandoval had cranked out an opposite-field bomb to make it 1-0 Giants. But then the first batter he faced, Craig Counsell, took a desperate late hack at some shoulder-high cheese and it wound up in the LF corner for a triple. Two extra-base hits later and it was 2-1 Brewers. It never got any better. Big Sugar was gnarly, but a Hardy homer and an ugly 5th ended his quest for the X-prize. Here's M.C. (via Chris Haft):
"I beat myself in the fifth by walking guys. There's no way around it," he said. He repeated that he "beat himself" by not handling Hardy's bunt properly. "As a pitcher," Cain said, "you have to make the assumption that you're fielding it no matter what until it happens or you get called off."
The walks were to Yovani Gallardo (the pitcher!) and the always-annoying Craig Counsell. J.J. Hardy put down a bunt that neither Sandoval nor Cain seemed to know what to do with, and then Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder put the final nails in with a hit and a sac fly. I saw the bunt play, Hardy is pretty quick and even a cleanly-fielded ball and a perfect throw would have been a tough out. Matt seemed to have good stuff, and made everyone in their big-hitting lineup look bad at one point or another, but it was not to be.
There are four guys (Matt Cain, Chad Billingsley, Jason Marquis, and Johan Santana) in the NL with nine wins. One of them will get the big X pretty soon, I was sure hoping it would be our guy. The three others all pitch again on Tuesday. The Giants have not announced their starter for Wednesday, but it would be Cain's turn. I know that "wins" are sort of a silly stat, but when it's one of ours I want all the gaudy numbers. This midwest swing through Milwaukee and St. Louis matches us up with two teams that have similar records to ours, and both expect to compete for playoff spots. It will be an interesting test of our mettle.
After 72 games (4/9 of the season), we are 39-33. We went 11-7 in our last 18 games. In our previous 18-game "innings" we went 9-9, 9-9, and 10-8. Is that a true indicator of our slow, steady improvement? I'd like to think so. But I will admit to looking over our shoulder at the surging Crockies. No rest until the All-Star break, 16 straight games, 6 on the road and then a 10-game homestand. We take a road trip ourselves (Lake Tahoe!) for the Fourth, and we'll wind up in San Francisco for the Monday and Tuesday games against the FloMars. Meanwhile the boys will have to prove they can win when wearing gray.