Matt CainIt seems like it’s been a while since I’ve written a Giants game story, and tonight seemed like a good time to get back on the horse (no pun intended … no, seriously, you can go back and check, I’ve never called any pitcher a “horse,” even Saturday night’s Giants starter). The Los Angeles Dodgers are running away with the National League West, so the Giants are left to siphon small victories from their remaining games. That’s easier to do when the team goes on a three-game winning streak and Matt Cain goes seven innings for the fourth straight time.

It’s been a frustrating season for Cain, who lowered his ERA to 4.35 but felt like it would’ve been lower than that if it weren’t for a call he REALLY didn’t like by first base umpire Larry Vanover. With a 2-2 count, Cain threw a heat-seeker that sent Giancarlo Stanton sprawling. Cain and Buster Posey thought the pitch also struck out Stanton swinging. Vanover disagreed, and Cain made his displeasure known. Cain’s next pitch to Stanton moved slightly toward the inner half of the plate, and Stanton sent the ball a good distance over the 427 sign that sits about 40 feet above the ground way back in left-center.

I’ve seen Cain angry before. Once a reporter asked him if he was unhappy after a loss because he gave up a home run to the opposing pitcher. Cain’s response: “That’s a really dumb question.” Cain was angry that night, and his comment and smirk let everyone know he was in a grouchy mood. After Stanton’s home run, Cain was infinitely more pissed off.

So he struck out Logan Morrison on three pitches, and proceeded to strike out the side in that inning, the sixth.

That was the second turning point in this game. The first was an entire inning, the fourth. The fourth inning was a very strange inning in which the Giants were extremely fortunate.

  • For some reason, Morrison decided to take the ball to first base himself on Pablo Sandoval’s grounder with men on second and third — even though pitcher Henderson Alvarez got there first.
  • To add to what was already a ludicrous play, Sandoval dove headfirst.
  • That caused a three-player pileup with Sandoval on the bottom, and somehow Sandoval didn’t get hurt … badly, anyway.
  • Gregor Blanco hit a line drive that wasn’t right at somebody for the first time since May.

The Giants ended up with four runs in the fourth, and in the bottom of the inning the Marlins loaded the bases before Cain fielded a sharply-hit comebacker from Adeiny Hechavarria. Not exactly a textbook shutdown inning, but neither the Giants nor Cain can get greedy about such things these days.

Stolen BASGs

— The Giants had five streaks of at least three wins by May 12 of this season. They’ve only had three of those streaks since, and the other two ended at three games. If a team that’s 12 games under .500 in August can play important games, tomorrow’s chance to sweep the Marlins and end their road trip in a positive way seems like an important game. Relatively speaking, of course.

— Another weird moment during this weird series in a weird park (a park I kind of secretly love — shhhh): Cain almost drilling Hernandez, who squared to bunt and let go of his bat as the pitch came in. The unattended bat connected with the ball, saving Hernandez from getting plunked somewhere in the upper thigh (or worse). It was sort of like when Hunter Pence’s broken bat made contact with the ball three separate times on that base hit last October, except not like that at all. Man, I’m rusty when it comes to writing about baseball.

— Brandon Belt’s 11-game hitting streak is now over. He walked twice in the same game for the first time since July 10, which means he’s probably getting passive again. #BeltBash

— I know enough about baseball to realize that beating the Nationals once and the Marlins twice doesn’t exactly measure up to the Dodgers going 42-8 in their last 50 games.

— Also, to all the people getting upset at Gary Radnich for telling the listening audience he’ll root for the Dodgers in the playoffs: it’s a bit. He did the same thing when the Giants were terrible in 2008 and 2009. Instant anger, instant texts and phone calls, and Radnich laughs at how easy it is to yank people’s chains. Don’t take the bait, people.