Sunday, September 26, 2010

SF 4, COL 2: Cained

Did you know that Matt Cain is my favorite player on the Giants? That's right. I decided in 2006, his first full season. When I am an old man, still a Giants fan of course, and someone asks me, "Who was your favorite Giants player? Who did you love the most?", the answer will be easy. It was Matt Cain. Matt Cain, the one with great stuff, no doubt, but never the greatest stuff on the team. Matt Cain, who got his share of attention, but never the most. Matt Cain, the one with the most heart, the most grit on the team. Yes, I, the David Eckstein hating, stat-quoting baseball fan, I am talking about heart and grit. Because while the "intangibles" can't truly measure who the best are, they can measure what we love, what we admire. And watching Cain pitch for 5 seasons now, we have seen those intangibles show up again and again, whether its accepting a losing record with stoicism and grace, getting out of jam after jam, or pitching shut down innings like no one else. And then, in the biggest game of the year, of his career, hell, the biggest Giants game since Finley's grand slam in 2004, he almost throws a no hitter, and goes 9 innings to secure the win. Amazing.

The Rockies that were smoking the ball last night looked completely helpless at the plate today, as Cain was throwing strikes with his fastball AND curve. CarGo and Tulo could do nothing against him. After losing the no hitter, on a questionable base hit that Juan Uribe double clutched on, Cain gave up a 2 run homer to Melvin Mora. But he didn't lose his composure one bit, and got out of the inning, then, with 100 pitches, went out to finish the 9th. Props to Bochy for having complete confidence in him. He even ended the game with a "Wainwright to Beltran hook" (all curveballs that strike out the last hitter of the game, looking, remind me of Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS). Cain's final line was 9 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, with a game score of 80. It was his 4th complete game of the season. He had 4 last year as well. Not quite Bob Gibson, but impressive for a 25 year old pitcher these days.

Cain has flirted with no hitters many times before, and I believe, one of these days he will get one. While he isn't quite one of the upper elite pitchers, yet, he is definitely one of the hardest to hit in baseball. His lifetime 7.59 hits per 9 innings is 5th among active pitchers, and 2nd only to Johan Santana among active starters. Yeah, he's that hard to hit. Unfortunately, his no hitter today ended rather strangely. Jay Payton his a groundball up the middle, and Juan Uribe double clutched before throwing to first. Payton was safe. It's very possible that Payton would have been safe even if Uribe hadn't double clutched, but, in my opinion, a double clutch like that constitutes an error on the part of the fielder. Oh well. If you want to care about no hitters, you have to accept the idea of official scorers.

The Giants scored 4 runs today, and it could have been a lot more, because Jorge De La Rosa was not good. He kept missing on the outside corner, and seemed to be upset about it. Too bad for him that Tom Glavine is the only pitcher who'll ever get that call. Freddy Sanchez, much maligned on this blog this summer, hit a 2 run HR in the first inning to give the Giants a quick lead. Well done, Singles Hitter. And Cody Ross just might be starting to heat up.

The Giants off day tomorrow should do them and the fans some good. Arizona is coming to town, and though they are a last place team, remember: they swept the red hot Rockies this past week. I can't think of anything worse than Adam LaRoche hurting us in the last week of the season.

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