Today's start against the Astros was not just Cain's worst of the season, it was one of the worst of his career**. On August 12, 2006 the Dodgers beat the Giants 6-5 in Chavez LAtrine, and Matt gave up 10 hits and all 6 runs in 4-plus innings. On May 3, 2007 the Phillies beat the Giants 9-7 in San Francisco, and Matt lasted 3-plus, giving up 8 hits and 7 runs. On April 18, 2008 the Cardinals beat the Giants 11-1 at Busch III, and Matt gave up 8 hits and 9 runs in 3-2/3 IP. Todd Wellemeyer was the winning pitcher! On September 22, 2009, the Diamondbacks beat the Giants in Arizona 10-8, and Matt lasted 2-1/3, giving up 8 hits and 7 runs. That's not the complete pantheon of Cain stinkers, but it's close. Not bad in 152 chances, eh?
Cain's 15th start of the 2010 season was one to forget, but his first 14 starts were pretty damn good. In 100 IP only 26 runs were allowed, which is an average of 7.1 innings and 1.85 runs per outing. I know an "average" doesn't mean much--especially without a standard deviation--but it gives us a thumbnail sketch of his season so far. It's also close to what we've all felt intuitively, namely that Matt Cain is Mr. Consistency, and gives the team a boatload of quality starts. According to Fan Graphs, Matt entered today 11th among NL starters in FIP (3.38). ZiPS projects 3.51 for the season, which is still very good (top one-third of ML starters). We can only hope his 16th start is much better.
I'm disappointed, and not just because I watched my favorite Giant perform as poorly as he ever has. No, I'm a Team Man all the way, I wanted the Giants to beat the lowly Astros and come home with their 40th win. Alas, they'll have to do that this weekend against a tough club. The Red Sox have the highest team wOBA in the game (.359) and have scored nearly 400 runs. They give up about a run more per game than the Giants, though, so it should be an interesting match-up. The Sox pounded Ubaldo Jimenez last night (it was his season-worst start as well), only to watch closer Jonathan Papelbon blow the win in the 9th.
Tomorrow's game is also the 72nd of the year, which is the 4th-inning of a 162-game season (18 x 4 = 72, 18 x 9 = 162). The halfway point (game 81) is the Fourth of July, the final game of a four-game set in Colorado. That trip--11 games--is the longest of the season, with four games in Milwaukee and three in Washington right before the All-Star Break (88th game). With the Dodgers coming to town after the Red Sox series, it should be a drama-laden three weeks, and we'll know quite a bit more about our team. Last season the Giants were 49-39 at the Break (.557). Can we do better than 10-7 in the next 17 games?
**Cain's Game Score, 12, was his 2nd-lowest ever (the 11-1 loss in St. Louis was a 10).