The schedule was made before the playoffs last year, so it's not like the Giants slipped a sawbuck to Bud Selig to get the Cardinals in town just so we could laugh at them. It was a happy coincidence. It allowed the Giants to annoy the crap out of the Cardinals and their fans, even if that was, like, the 50th-best part of the opening ceremonies. It was just a neat coincidence -- a nice little poke in the eye. I hope Jose Oquendo watched the whole thing.
There was a downside that we didn't really think about, though. That would be the downside of the Giants getting throttled while wearing their gold livery. One minute the Giants were chasing each other around, playing Green Lantern, and yelling "pew pew pew," and the next they were watching a carousel of Cardinals go around the bases. It was kind of humiliating. Not up-three-games-to-one-and-still-losing humiliating, but humiliating enough. The Giants were like a guy in a tuxedo at a bus stop. You know something didn't go right with that guy's night.
Cain's first fastball of the day was 88 m.p.h., which doesn't have to mean anything, but it was pretty clear he didn't have his best stuff. That didn't stop me from getting greedy and thinking, "Man oh man, it would be so awesome if Cain pitched another perfect game today" after the first three perfect innings. Hey, all he needed to do was retire another 18 straight Cardinals. It could have happened. Instead, nine of the next 11 batters reached. Really, the best comparison you can make was the Madison Bumgarner/Twins game. Cain threw good pitches, he threw bad pitches, and he threw worse pitches. Didn't matter. They were all sent into the outfield.
It was, of course, the worst inning of the 1,547 Cain has pitched in his career. The last time Cain gave up nine earned runs, it was 2008. This is relevant because it was also the last time "What's wrong with Matt Cain?" was a legitimate question. Cain had a high-walk win and a pair of disastrous outings shortly after. His ERA didn't get under 4.00 until July 24.
The answer to that question was "Nothing." Or, maybe more accurately, "Nothing he can't fix." I'd reckon the same thing applies here. Bad start. Move on. Don't even get weird about the high-80s fastball -- he's done it before, and he's come out the other side. Because he's Matt Cain, dammit.
The last time the Giants stranded a leadoff triple, it was 2001. Marvin Benard led the game off with a triple off Shawn Chacon, who eventually walked the bases loaded, but Rich Aurilia hit a pop-up, Armando Rios grounded into a force at home, and Shawon Dunston grounded out to end the inning. The Giants lost 10-4.
Since then, the Giants had plated 19 leadoff triples in a row. Last year, the Giants had two: Gregor Blanco led the game off with a triple on September 12, and three days later, Angel Pagan led a game off with a triple. In both cases, Marco Scutaro drove them both in during the next at-bat.
What can we take away from this?
1. When the Giants strand leadoff triples, the baseball gods flip the runs wheelbarrow over for the other team
2. The Giants tend to play better when Marco Scutaro outhits Charlie Culberson
3. Shawn Chacon wasn't a figment of your imagination
Leadoff triples are kind of rare -- there are some seasons (2003, 2009) in which the Giants don't get one at all. To waste one is a bad omen, the baseball version of a goocher. The last time the Giants won a game in which they wasted a leadoff triple, Kevin Mitchell hit a home run. I hope Jose Oquendo felt bad about that game, too.
Do you think that Marco Scutaro went up to Matt Holliday and stared at him like Harpo Marx until Holliday said, "What?", all annoyed, before Scutaro replied, "Mmllaaaaawwl," opened his mouth, and stuck out his tongue, revealing a World Series ring?
Probably. That probably happened.