A credit to the Giants' early season success that it wasn't until Buster Posey struck out on the third straight slider from former Cleveland doof Chris Perez the team's chances of tying the game really felt like they had evaporated. Sure, the Giants would strike out sixteen times and walk zero times tonight, but with the exception of Brandon Crawford and Ehire Adrianza, the Giants never felt more than one swing away from a run. That last part was a great feeling to carry over twenty seven outs. The inability to draw a walk was, however, a terrible, terrible feeling.
But the worst feeling of all came from watching Matt Cain pitch tonight.
Last season, Matt Cain gave up 10 home runs via the fastball. Tonight, he surrendered 2 more via fastball to Matt Kemp and 3 overall, the third one to Hanley Ramirez on what they're calling a changeup but what looked like a lazy two-seamer.
I say "looked like" even though Matt Cain's stuff never really looked like anything tonight. He had control in that he could get the pitches in the strike zone, but he never had command of his pitches, because they never really did anything. And sometimes, he'd have bad command and bad control (both home runs to Matt Kemp were fastballs that missed their locations by a WIDE margin). Most of the outs were hard outs and most of the hits (which were extra base hits) came off of pitches that were belt high and out of over the middle of the plate.
So, after tonight, 3 home runs allowed via fastball already this season. And, after tonight, a renewed sense of creeping panic concerning Matthew Thomas Cain. The fastball velocity is there, but all secondary pitches and at varying points his control and command are practically nonexistent. He's not anywhere close to being "done" (though, if you'll recall The Bryan Murphy Theory of Pitchers: "Sometimes, pitchers just go, man.") and there's every chance he'll get back on track and quickly, but after two hard to watch starts in 2014 and a half season in 2013 that compelled us all to chew our fingernails down to our elbows, creeping panic feels warranted. I'll allow it.
The game the Dodgers played tonight was Guggenheim Baseball Management's platonic ideal of a Dodgers game for this season. Hella home runs and dominant pitching. I might never again listen to Beethoven's 5th after tonight. That they dominated without Puig available will only serve to bolster their confidence, and if there's anything more gut-wrenching than a confident Dodger, I don't want to know about it.
The Giants are off to a fast start at 5-2, all games on the road and all games versus tough division opponents. They haven't looked overmatched, but the pitching has looked like an orange and black question mark (soon to be available for sale at your local SF Giants Dugout Store). I kinda… okay, I *really* actually would prefer it if the pitching was the given and the offense was a question mark, but so long as the team continues to win, it's hard to get too upset about the situation/looming crisis, and it's pretty clear that the Giants *know* the pitching will have to get it together if they're going to go anywhere this season, and for once, the projection systems and our eyeballs (after watching the early season returns) seem to be in agreement and it's entirely possible (though it's still early, I know!) that this team could be better than average, but good!
Angel Pagan didn't seem bothered by the shadows or Zack Greinke but I know he got me *hot and bothered* by flashing the bat and the glove tonight. It's weird to think of Angel Pagan as being the straw that stirs the drink, but as we witnessed last season, he's a 20-win player.
Brandon Belt is good, and I'm encouraged by his start to the 2014 season.