None of this is new, but familiarity doesn’t make it any less painful. The Giants’ pitchers got lit up on Thursday night in a 10-5 loss to the Pirates after losing 12-1 to the Red Sox the day before. This time they also lost Matt Cain, after he took a Gaby Sanchez line drive off his right forearm in the fourth inning.
No bones were broken, but it didn’t take long for Cain, Bruce Bochy and Dave Groeschner to make the call to remove him from the game. “It hit me in the meaty part of the area. Kind of went right to my hand a little bit, the feeling was a little bit bruised real quick,” Cain said. Usually I’d make a joke whenever the words “meaty” and “area” are uttered in the same sentence, but not tonight.
Cain has been a magnet for sharply hit balls up the middle this year, but this one might keep him out of the rotation for a bit. He has made at least 31 starts in each of the past seven seasons. Cain hitting the disabled list wasn’t even a consideration, even during this topsy turvy year. He went 2.1 and 0.2 innings in consecutive starts in early July and it appeared that he might be hiding some sort of injury or at the very least be dealing with a dead or comatose arm. But then he pitched five serviceable innings against Arizona, and followed that by going at least seven innings in his next five starts leading into tonight.
Oh, but the dark cloud of baseball crap has parked itself over McCovey Cove, because baseball drinks red wine and Pepto Bismol when it’s angry at a team. Baseball is angry at the Giants.
Cain’s just the latest pitcher to get hit in the wrong place by a baseball traveling at least 90 mph. First it was Ryan Vogelsong who took a pitch off his right hand, a HBP that resulted in a fracture. Chad Gaudin went to the DL after taking a liner off his right forearm, although his bruise might have been closer to his elbow than Cain’s tonight.
Bochy praised Cain’s “durability” and “toughness” after the game, but with the Giants looking more and more each day like they’re coming to terms with a last place fate, they’ll give Cain all the time he needs to heal.
“We’re not going to take any chances,” said Bochy, who explained exactly what it would take for Cain not to miss his next turn. “He’s going to have to have a tremendous recovery and not feel anything.”
— The Giants made a little comeback and tied the game at 3-3 in the fourth inning. But if the Pirates thought they were taking BP against Cain, they were playing tee-ball with Guillermo Moscoso and Jose Mijares on the mound.
“The guys did a great job of coming back. Marco got a big hit. That’s what’s disappointing, then you have an ugly inning like that after you just tied the game. But when the long guy has trouble throwing strikes, that’s a recipe for disaster,” Bochy said.
— Understatement of the night from Bochy: “It’s been a tough week for the fellas.”
— Bochy noted that Cain had “taken some pretty good shots up the middle” and “been hit a few times.” I asked him whether there’s anything Cain could do differently to avoid getting pelleted every month or two, and Bochy had no answers. “He attacks the zone. That’s what he does well. Balls up the middle, there’s not a lot you can do about that.”
— Cain mentioned taking a ball off his arm in a similar spot back in 2009. It was right before the All-Star break so he got a little extra rest and was able to make his next scheduled start back then as a result.
— Mijares heard a healthy dose of boos when the fifth inning appeared to be never-ending, and by the ninth inning the park had thinned out quite a bit. I haven’t seen a crowd like this for a Giants/Pirates game since Candlestick Park was used for baseball.