Friday, July 4, 2014

Cain, Giants Out of Gas

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!



M.C. O'Connor said...

1500 strikeouts for Cain in his career.

Brother Bob said...

Are they certain Tim can't pitch every day? I mean, have they asked him?

JC Parsons said...

Actually all of the starters have stepped it up lately. MadBum's last one was sucky but otherwise the rotation, in general, has done what it takes to turn this around. Sure, shutouts while homering does seem to be what it takes right now but I'm sure the offense will return some. We won't average 4 runs a game anymore tho, more like three, so the pitchers need to make up that difference. Didn't Bochy talk with them about 2 weeks ago? Do talks ever work? The team meeting yesterday sure worked wonders.

JC Parsons said...

I know we poo poo "WINS" as an individual stat around here. But isn't Matt on a historical winless streak right now? Even for Matt, the greatest sub .500 pitcher of all time, this one feels bad. How many starts? Ten or twelve, or was there a win in there?

Zo said...

Based on current trends, the Giants can be expected to score slightly more than 50 runs in the remaining 76 games this season.

Zo said...

In 2008, Matt Cain was #45 among 45 qualified pitchers in run support, with 3.18 runs scored while he was the pitcher of record. A qualified pitcher is one who has pitched at least one inning for each game his team has played. Barry Zito was #43.

In 2009, Matt Cain was #22 among 46 qualified pitchers with 4.18 runs scored. Barry Zito was #45 and Jonathan Sanchez was #42.

In 2010, Matt Cain was #29 among 45 qualified pitchers with 4.03 runs scored.

In 2011, Matt Cain was #42 among 50 qualified pitchers with 3.45 runs scored. Tim Lincecum was #50.

In 2012, Matt Cain was #12 among 46 qualified pitchers with 4.63 runs scored.

In 2013, Matt Cain was #36 among 43 qualified pitchers with 3.40 runs scored.

Thus far in 2014, Matt Cain is not a qualified pitcher, having pitched 84.1 innings in 86 games. Among non-qualified pitchers who have any run support at all, Matt Cain ranks #97 among 121 pitchers with 3.07 runs scored. Ryan Vogelsong is #92.

For what it is worth, among qualified pitchers in 2014, Madison Bumgarner is tied for #5 among 50 pitchers with 4.89 runs of support, Tim Hudson is #20, with 4.06, Tim Lincecum is #28 with 3.88 and Ryan Vogelsong's 3.24 runs of support ranks him #42.

M.C. O'Connor said...

The A's made a huge trade, prospects for starters. They are planning on a playoff run and need the front-line arms. With the best record in baseball and the most runs scored (they are also one of the best at run prevention) they are in a position to play their hand that way. Seems like a smart, ballsy move. They are going for it and have their sights on the Series.

What the fuck are the Giants going to do? Stand pat and hope they dig out of this hole?

This season has gone to shit so fast I can't feel the solid ground. Where is that ballclub we saw in April and May? I mean there is a hell of a lot of baseball left but the scary part is the team did this same thing last season: 10-17 in June, 8-17 in July.