Sometime during the past week, I don’t know when, Mike Krukow said Matt Cain would definitely be a manager someday. I’m pretty sure Krukow said the same thing about Mark DeRosa a day or two later, but tonight Cain displayed the qualities one would need to be a great manager in any field.
Managers should be consistent, dependable, hard-working, understanding, and as demanding of themselves as they are of the people they’re responsible for. But most of all, when the situation is most dire, a great manager is a rock. And that’s Cain. On Wednesday night the Giants absolutely had to win. They had to. It didn’t matter if the Diamondbacks won 9-2 or lost 9-2 to the Phillies, the Giants had to show that the bad news that kept punching them in the mouth wasn’t going to make them a noticeably weaker team — even though the injuries have made the Giants weaker.
Cain stepped into the game (with a rare 1-0 lead, which somehow created even more pressure), and things didn’t go exactly as planned. An unearned run later, and everything seemed too much to bear again. Brian Wilson’s visit to Dr. James Andrews (elbow inflammation for now … hold your breath), all the other injuries, Arizona’s winning streak, high gas prices, all of it.
Then Cain retired 18 straight Braves and even came up with one of the Giants’ four(!) sacrifice flies, and the Giants had an easy win. Well, not exactly easy, seeing as the Giants were a Brian McCann home run away from a tie game in the ninth, but easy is relative when you’re talking about the Giants. At this point, wins like their 6-0 victory last Tuesday against the Pirates seem like exhibition games. It isn’t a real win unless it ends with everyone praying one of the relief pitchers can get some bad ass hitter out in the ninth inning with guys on base.
Since the Giants’ offense has been so terrible this season and the Giants had a whopping three guys with two doubles apiece on Wednesday, Cain’s greatness is easy to shove into the “eh, it’s a given” category. “Nice job, Cain. You picked up your teammates … again.” But if the Giants are able to get past the D-Backs (2.5 games back after Wednesday), Cain’s performance should not be forgotten. And when he makes his managerial debut for the Giants in 2025 or whenever, it’s games like this one against the Braves that we’ll remember.