To get “Cained” means to pitch your heart out and still either get tagged with a no-decision or even lose. Matt Cain was the recipient of yet another “Caining” today at Chavez Ravine, as the Dodgers won 4-0 and the Giants’ ace got absolutely no help. The defense played like it was the first day of Spring Training, not the first day of the regular season. While the Dodgers battled through long plate appearances before succumbing to Cain’s greatness, the Giants couldn’t do the same against Cain’s competition, the great Clayton Kershaw.
The afternoon started with Magic Johnson getting pulled by Dodgers manager Don Mattingly before getting a chance to throw the first pitch. Mattingly brought in the lefty, Sandy Koufax (who threw a one-hopper to home plate). I had to watch the game on Prime Ticket, and Kershaw was compared to Koufax several times today. It was hard to disagree, frankly.
This stat effectively tells the story of Opening Day for both the Giants and Dodgers: Cain threw 92 pitches over six shutout innings. Kershaw threw 94 pitches in a complete game shutout.
It wasn’t just the visiting team’s hitters that got Kershawed. The 2011 NL Cy Young winner hit a home run to center off George Kontos to lead off the eighth inning and break a 0-0 tie, and San Francisco’s bullpen unraveled after that. The bullpen — and Kontos, who looked great in the seventh inning before Bochy tried to get an extra inning out of him — will be fine. So will the Giants, because they won’t face the best left-handed pitcher alive all that often. It’s not like the Dodgers proved they’re some juggernaut after all the money they’ve spent; this whole “Kershaw mows down the Giants with ease” thing is something we’re all familiar with.
There were some good and not-so-good signs for the Giants in what otherwise was a forgettable afternoon.
– Pablo Sandoval had a couple hits and survived three throws to first base.
– Buster Posey threw out Carl Crawford at third in the first inning. I mentioned that Posey’s arm looks really, really good this spring. He’ll still be challenged to keep his CS% as high as Yadier Molina’s, since Molina doesn’t have to catch pitchers with release times as slow as Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum, but if a baserunner’s jump isn’t too absurd Posey will show repeatedly that he ain’t havin’ it.
– Cain struck out eight, including Matt Kemp (who dumped a bucket of ice water on Kershaw during his postgame interview, because THESE BOYS IN BLUE JUST REALLY LOVE TO PLAY TOGETHER AND THEY HAVE WAY BETTER CHEMISTRY THAN BRANDON BELT’S DUMB OLD GIANTS!):
So the Giants are 0-1, the Dodgers are 1-0, and everyone can freak out until Madison Bumgarner takes the hill tomorrow against a new foe, Hyun-Jin Ryu. I’ll be there in the stands, watching the Giants play in Dodger Stadium for the first time in person, and I’m optimistic about their chances for a couple reasons.
The sun should be setting by the time the game starts, so Pence shouldn’t have any eyewear mishaps. And Ryu’s a lefty, but he’s no Kershaw.