It seemed that Matt Cain had lost it by the 6th inning this afternoon in San Diego. He got the third out, but had nothing left for the 7th and was pulled after four hitters and one out. Thankfully Jeremy Affeldt got the magic double play ball and the Giants still had a chance. Actually the Giants, these days, only have a chance if the pitcher throws a shutout. Normally if a starter gives a club 6-1/3 and two runs you'll hear "did the job" and "kept the team in the game" and "quality start" and all that jibber-jabber. (Ain't that right, Ryan Vogelsong?) Normally teams score about four runs a game (the league average), too. But that's not how it works for the orange-and-black these days. Shutouts and no-hitters are the only way this team can win. So I reckon that his effort today makes Matty a choker. Zeroes only from this point forward, laddie! You give up runs you are a loser. Want proof? Check the box score: there's an "L" next to "Cain." For $20+M/year we want nothing less than "W" every time!
The Giants continued on their hell-ward spiral today. They couldn't hit and they couldn't string together the hits they got. They couldn't stop the other team from scoring. They were utterly feeble and over-matched by the second-worst team in the league. It's some kind of sick punishment by the baseball gods. Just shy of a month ago I retired from my profession of schoolteaching after 30 years. On Sunday, June 8th, the Giants swept the Mets and stood atop the baseball world at 42-21. Since then the team has gone 5-18. It's not just that they stuck a knife in our hearts, it's now they've decided to twist it, and prolong the agony.
I used to be implacably calm when Matt Cain pitched. You knew, over the long haul, that the Tennesse Stud would deliver. He would grind out quality innings after quality innings and give the team big starts time and time again. These days I'm scared when the big righty pitches. He's not the same as he was. He looks vulnerable, like the league has figured him out. Tim Lincecum fell off a cliff, remember? But here lately maybe, just maybe, he has started to make the adjustments and turn himself around. I never thought that he wouldn't. (How's that for negating negatives?) The same thing seems to be happening to Matty. He is no longer the same guy. He has to re-invent himself, just like Timmy. I believe he will. Athletes are prideful creatures--they like to play the hero and impress the crowd. I think Cain is made of that sort of stuff, too. He wants to be The Horse. The Man. The leader of the pack. It's weird to write this after a good start. It's not like Cain gave it up today or sucked big time. Far from it--he "pitched well enough to win" and in April and May the Giants would have won this game easily. But these June and July Giants are a very different animal, indeed, and it's hard to know what to expect from one day to the next.
The Giants stand at 47-39 or .547 ball after 86 games. I thought, when the season started, that this was a 90+ win team. A 90-win team is .556 ball. That means the Giants have to play, percentage-wise, better baseball from this point forward than they have so far. They have to go 43-33 or .566 just to get to 90, and we know that might not be enough. To get to 94 will take 47-29 or .618 which seems increasingly unlikely. Of course they could snap out of their funk at any moment and run off some wins--this is indeed a possibility. But watching today's effort makes it hard to be optimistic. After the team fell behind 2-0 in the 3rd it was like the air was let out of the balloon. They had nothing and did nothing the rest of the game. Please, Gods of Baseball, say it ain't so. Give me a sign the Giants are awakening from their .217 stretch and are still contenders.
I hope you all had a relaxing Fourth. Happy Independence Day, everyone!