Do you know how many comeback wins the 2011 Giants had? One. And that came after a court order from an activist judge. I'm not sure if that's entirely accurate, but it's close enough. The Giants don't come back. At least, the Giants didn't used to come back.
This year's team is a perfect example of baseball thinking it's cute. All it takes is one year to change everything you know about a team. It takes about two years to flip everything around completely. Think of that 2011 team. Madison Bumgarner had the second-highest ERA in the rotation. That ERA was 3.21. Brian Wilson had the second-highest ERA in the bullpen. That ERA was 3.11. But because they could field a lineup like this, they didn't win 120 games. No, that team couldn't even make the playoffs.
Two years later, and the Giants are the Rangers from the late-'90s. At least, they are from the perspective of people used to 2-1 and 1-0 games. It doesn't always matter if the starting pitchers give up bushels of runs. The Giants can score them right back. It's like you following Alex Trebek around, shouting answers at him, and throwing him money. That's not how it's supposed to work. But it is. It does. It is. What is going on? Bunch of runs at the right time, or something. Funny how that works.
In conclusion, here is a list of all the games the Giants have won when Matt Cain allows six runs or more:
There you go. Cain got a win on Thursday night. He didn't deserve it. Which means he deserves about 30 more of them.
The 2013 Giants in a sentence: I can't wait to write about Brandon Crawford because it takes my mind off Matt Cain.
I'm not sure what I shouted after that play, but it was enough to bring the mobile members of my family in from the other room. That's … I mean, that play … look, the thing about that play …. Alright, I don't have a great way to describe it. It's something Crawford picked up when he was playing for his Little League team on Dagobah. The ball hit a pebble, and at this point Crawford is just showing off. Which he should.
Yet all I hear around the league is Andrelton Simmons this and Andrelton Simmons that. He's like the baby with the one eyebrow. I don't know much about Simmons, but he annoys me. He's the leader of the heretics who haven't been touched by Crawford and bathed in his flowing locks and wondrous defense.
This is something that you might have seen last year, though. An ode to Brandon Crawford's defense. It was great last year, and he should have won the Gold Glove. He's doing it again. He was supposed to. We were kind of counting on him.
But he was also 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a bases-clearing double with two outs. That double was the comeback. Without it, it would have been another miserable game. What's wrong with Cain? Goodness, Cain sure is giving up a lot of home runs! What's wrong with Cain? What's wrong with Cain? What's wrong with Cain? What's wrong with Cain? What's wrong with Cain?
We can still ask that. But with the two-out double from Crawford -- on a two-strike pitch, no less -- the story is another comeback. The story is a reverse-Caining, in which our hero is let of the hook. It's May 16, and Brandon Crawford is hitting .277/.344/.475. If he were hitting .277/.310/.310, he'd be a valuable player. If he were hitting .244/.344/.344, he'd be a valuable player. If he were hitting .245/.275/.475, he'd be a valuable player. Instead, he's take the best of all those examples. And here we are.
After his high-water mark of April 18 (1.028 OPS), Crawford hit .217/.275/.386 coming into Thursday. That's a little more like it, and it's possible that his early-season start was a fluke. Heck, it might even be likely. But I'd like to live in a world where Crawford does a little bit of everything, and a lot more of the amazing stuff in the field. When it's all on display, it's beyond fun to watch.
Matt Cain, mumble mumble mumble, something smart that you haven't thought of, mumble mumble LOOK OVER THERE
Okay, fine, we'll talk about Matt Cain. Just a little bit. A couple things can be true:
1. Matt Cain has been leaving pitches over the plate
It's true. I've seen it. You've seen it. They don't look good going in, and they sure as heck don't look good going out. Makes you wonder what's wrong. It isn't anything we've seen since Cain's been a Giant. It probably isn't anything Cain has ever had to deal with at any level.
2. There is still some freaky, flukey stuff going on
After Thursday, Matt Cain's homer-to-fly-ball ratio is 18.3 percent. That's ludicrous. When Jose Lima allowed 48 homers in 2000, his HR/FB ratio was 12.1 percent. When Bronson Arroyo allowed 46 homers in 2011, his HR/FB ratio was 13 percent. When Jamie Moyer allowed 44 homers in 2004, his HR/FB ratio was 12.4 percent. Matt Cain is way, way past that. Cain is on pace to allow 48 homers -- second-worst mark ever. That's more than he allowed from June 19, 2010 through the end of 2012.
So you can believe that's just how it is now.
Or you can say … nah. This will change. Not every fly ball he gives up will continue to go over the fence. Just one of those things. Not totally out of Cain's hands. But somewhat out of his hands. And he'll be fine. Like, remember how I spent last April and May telling you Lincecum would be fine? Like that. Just like that.
Wait, but completely different.