This post was supposed to be all about Matt Cain’s weird outing and the Giants’ inability to hit the ball. Cain struggled again, giving up four runs in the first three innings — not all of them his fault — and the entire Giants’ batting order made Patrick Corbin look like a Cy Young candidate.
Then, somewhere around the bottom of the eighth, this turned into a redux of a lot of posts about this team lately: Gritty Giants rally back to erase deficit!
Then, somewhere in the 11th, it all fell apart again. This post has been rewritten three different times tonight, so now I’m not sure where to begin.
Let’s just start from the top.
The first seven innings of this game truly were a return to 2011. Matt Cain is no stranger to anemic run support, and that’s all he got for his six innings of work. Of course, a new problem has surfaced for Cain this year, and it has nothing to do with run support at all.
After his last start in Milwaukee, The Guy asked if it was time to worry about Cain. His evidence regarding consistent velocity between 2012 and now was encouraging, but then Cain’s game was never predicated on throwing gas. The problem BASG pointed out was the same problem he faced in giving up four runs in the first three innings:
Mike Krukow knows infinitely more about pitching than I do, and after today’s game he mentioned a few problems he noticed from Cain during today’s 7-2 loss: his breaking balls didn’t have much life (he called them “lazy”), he left the ball up too often and, perhaps most surprisingly, Cain’s concentration was poor.
It wasn’t entirely Cain’s fault. Gerardo Parra was the first batter to reach on a rare fielding error by Brandon Crawford (foreshadowing). Then Cain gave up a single to Martin Prado and it was Paul Goldschmidt who popped a weird RBI-double onto the right field foul line, just out of the reach of Hunter Pence. One more run scored on a Miguel Montero grounder before Cain final got out of the inning.
His concentration came into question in the third, specifically on the pitch Goldschmidt blasted into the left field bleachers. After the home plate umpire made a questionable call on a beautiful curveball, Buster Posey set up for an outside fastball that Cain floated right into the Giant-killer’s wheelhouse.
Was he rattled from not getting the previous call? It’s speculatory to be sure, but the pitch was a mistake Cain can’t afford to make.
He settled down after giving up the home run by retiring his next seven batters, but the damage was done.
Comeback time (why are you making this so awkward, Brandon Belt?)
It’s only a matter of time before the #LOLKNBRCallers start calling for Belt to be a permanent pinch-hitter. Belt got his second enormously important ninth inning pinch-hit in as many games, except unlike last night’s, this one left the park completely.
Belt has become somewhat of a polarizing figure around this team, no? After spending his second day taking batting practice under the watchful eyes of Bruce Bochy, Belt was forced to ride the bench until called upon. That’s when he delivered when the Giants — right when they needed him most — tying the game with a two-run homer.
Belt replaced Arias, and like some annoying microcosm of his career, mistakes immediately accompanied success. He muffed a low throw from Sandoval in the top of the 11th (errorz = bad), added a base hit (hitz = good) in the bottom and then made a mistake on the basepaths (TOOTBLAN = bad) after Andres Torres grounded into a double play.
Regardless of the negative, it’s hard to see Belt sitting after these last few performances at the plate.
LOL Defense (and LOL Flannery)
The Giants lost this game essentially on brain Machis (for lack of a better term). San Francisco committed three errors, although it sure felt like a lot more at the time. Belt’s catching error in the top of the 11th sticks out, but so does Santiago’s Casilla’s wild pitch and Torres’s hesitation throwing to second after a Didi Gregorious base-hit-turned-double.
Of course, the game may not have reached the 11th at all had Tim Flannery not waved Pablo Sandoval in from second base with two outs in the 10th. Cody Ross gunned down Sandoval from right field easily. It wasn’t Flannery’s (or Sandoval’s) best moment by any means.
— It’s going to be really difficult to continue feeling warm and fuzzy about Cody Ross if he’s playing for the Diamondbacks. Ross enjoyed a two-hit night, and every time I turned around he was making a putout in right field.
— A fan sitting by the Giants bullpen along the third base line got ejected after trying to grab an Angel Pagan base hit in the fourth inning. It appears his section-mates weren’t paying close attention, because two folks from the same section tried to grab another fair ball — this one hit by Corbin in the seventh.