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 Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
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.