Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Saving your worst for last
Starting pitcher: M.C. O'Connor
As it stands now, Matt Cain will get two more starts--Sunday at home against the Cubs, and the following Saturday, the penultimate game of the season, in San Diego. Tonight was the 31st time he took the hill for the Giants this season, and only the third time he's failed to go six innings. Everything seemed fine in the first, as Matt started the game with a 12-pitch, three-up-three-down inning (a strikeout and two groundouts). After his first career triple in the top of the second that drove in two to take a 3-0 lead, everything fell apart. A nightmarish batting-practice session ensued, and Cain left the game having allowed SEVEN earned runs. He faced 15 batters and only managed 7 outs. Matt has had his share of poor outings, especially late in the season, but this was something else entirely. It may be one of those random "shit happens" events that happens to everyone. Or it may be a sign that Cain has hit the wall this year--fatigue, or a nascent injury, perhaps. Whatever, he's running on fumes at this point, and it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for Ol' Boch to think about mixing things up. He's got a roster full of lean and hungry types, and it seems like time to use them. Would it kill us to give Madison Bumgarner another start? Joe Martinez? How about sitting down Molina and giving Posey a few games behind the plate? I don't think we are playing for much but pride anymore, and protecting next year's investment (Cain turns 25 in October and is signed through 2010) might be more prudent than pretending to be in a pennant race. Of course, he might be fine, and pitch brilliantly in his next two (meaningless) starts. But the whole staff has just gone-end-to-end with some ugly, ugly work, and after almost six months of a long, hard, slog with no help from the bats or the brain trust, it isn't all that surprising there would be a drop-off. Cain's had a great year, but his mojo seems to be slipping away here at the bitter end. Then again, you don't get anywhere in the bigs if you aren't man enough to take your lumps. If Cain's in a slump--just in a slump, mind you--he's a big boy and he'll have to ride it out all the way. (If he has some physical issue, that's another matter.) It might spoil his pretty numbers a bit, but that's just life in the big leagues, isn't it?