The San Diego Padres came into Monday's game with six runs on the season. They doubled their season total. The Giants lost, 6-0. Let's talk about the season Matt Cain has had so far, as described by this game.
Cain pitched 7⅔ innings on Monday night (good), he walked one (good), allowed seven hits (good), and struck out seven (good). He allowed six runs (awful). All of the hits were concentrated in two innings (no idea), and he made people sad because of how his start turned out (bad).
But the final tally isn't the only thing about this game that stands out. Set the wayback machine to the fourth inning, when Matt Cain got wildly lucky. With two on and two out, Matt Cain gave up a 420-foot bomb to Yasmani Grandal, who is hitting like a dizzy Joaquin Arias this year. A charming European who had never watched a baseball game before -- people on Twitter were saying he was a count, maybe?-- reached over the wall and turned a double into a home run because Europeans are awful. Okay, that's probably ignorant, but at least we can agree the guy who caught the ball was awful. What are you thinking, person with neat seats?
Instead of the Padres taking a 3-0 lead, the call was overturned. It should have been a runner on second, with two runners scoring. Except, the umpires inexplicably ruled that the runner on first -- who was between second and third when the ball touched the wall -- needed to go back to third. It was a total nonsense call. I've seen that play 100 times since the park opened, and the only player who didn't score from first on a play like that was Ruben Rivera. He was the one out of the 100.
I was half-hoping Cain would play hackey-sack with the ball from a set position before the next pitch, and just give the second run up on a balk. Seemed fair. I was three-quarters hoping he would not do that and just get out of the inning, because I wanted the Giants to win the baseball contest.
There you go, though. There's your opening, Matt Cain. There's the spot of luck that's eluded you for most of the first half. When Cain misplaces a pitch, it's hit over the fence or driven into the gap, just like in the first half last year. There are no breaks. Every ball hit into the air is a ball that goes over the fence. And, yet, here's a break. Here's the umpires giving you a run back.
"Sir, I think you dropped this."
"But I wasn't carrying a wallet with a $100 bill in it would sure be nice if everyone were like you, mister. Thank you so much for returning my wallet!"
Next batter: single. Both runners score. Cain took the $100 and bought cases and cases of Billy Beer, then he tossed the cases off a bridge to see if they would float. He couldn't handle the turn of good fortune. He cheated awful fortune's design.
He had a good changeup working and a lively fastball. He wasn't shelled, except he gave up all of the runs.
I don't know, man.
Matt Cain: Career .500 pitcher. We're back here, again.
In the offseason, I clamored for the Giants to sign Odrisamer Despaigne because he was a curiosity and I was bored with the offseason. The Padres signed him for peanuts instead.
Dang it. But before you anoint Despaigne the next Bronson Arroyo, heir to the flim-flooping, dooky-chumbling throne, note his minor-league numbers:
Crazy walk numbers. And in this game, he threw 86 pitches, but just 59 strikes. That includes the wild flailings. It's as if the Giants were expecting Greg Maddux but got Jonathan Sanchez. Can you imagine what that would be like?
Looking for a two-seamer that curls back over the corner, looking for a two-seamer that curls back over the corner, looking for a ... wait, a fastball at my face? That was the *last* thing I was expecting! Well played.
Expecting command without getting it seems like a great way for a team to tie itself in knots. The Giants were hungry for a hanging breaking ball that never came.
Though it should be written that Despaigne pitched extraordinarily well. This kind of post-game reaction is far too often about what the Giants did wrong, because that's our focus. Who messed up, who dropped the ball, who pitched where they shouldn't have pitched? Sometimes the other team does well. The Padres caught the ball. The Giants had troubles. The ball just went under Joe Panik's glove in the eighth inning; Jace Peterson just got to a couple crucial balls.
The Padres played well. Maybe it's that simple sometimes.
It's never that simple.
Come back, Matt Caaaaaain.
Brandon Hicks really has hit into a ton of crap luck this year, and I feel bad for him. One at-bat today, one line drive. Right to a fielder. His average is down to .171, and his batting average on balls in play is down to .219. If that BABIP were even at .250, I'm not sure if Panik is up.
I'm really, really interested in this soccer stuff. Seems like something I could really get into.