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"It’s a fine line between clever and stupid." – Nigel Tufnel.

That’s always been one of the more functional movie lines out there. It works for so many situations. Allow me to bastardize it.

It’s a fine line between a watchable team and sheer torture. Before yesterday’s game, the Giants were bebopping along with a strangely satisfying record of 14-20. There shouldn’t be enough ecstasy in the world to make you feel alright with that record…but, hey, there were positives to be found. I could dig it. You could dig it.

Now they’re 14-21, and I could probably take a month off from watching another game. It’s a fine line between a watchable team and sheer torture. The difference is in how the team loses. I can deal with a team scoring three runs a game under the right circumstances. Maybe in one game, John Bowker goes 0-4 with four Ks, but Fred Lewis hits a pair of opposite field doubles. Maybe in the next game, the performances are reversed. The end result is a bad offensive team, but it’s a bad offensive team that’s at least building toward something. There’s a glimmer of hope.

What I can’t deal with is the constant spirit melting that accompanies every freaking Matt Cain start. A young pitcher, who left his last game with a tender hamstring, is cruising through six innings. He has 93 pitches at the end of six, he’s in line for the win, and he’s scheduled to bat in the top of the seventh. I can make a case that this young pitcher should go out for the seventh. A manager could say something like:

"(Young pitcher) needs to learn how to get into the seventh inning consistently. Sure, he’s young, but the difference between 93 and 115 pitches doesn’t freak me out. He didn’t look tired coming out of the sixth with 93 pitches. I’m not going to automatically pull the guy because he’s seven pitches away from a mystical round number."

You might disagree, but it isn’t a totally unreasonable argument.

Except this is Matt Cain! He’s cursed, dammit. Some Greek goddess came down in the form of a llama and tried to seduce him, but Cain didn’t really want to make it with a llama, the goddess got offended, and now Cain is forever doomed to pitch well in losing efforts. I’m pretty sure it’s in the Metamorphoses.

You pull Cain in that situation, if only to prevent him from taking a loss. Good effort, kid. Those were six innings of good ball. If the bullpen blows it, the bullpen blows it, but your job is done. There will be a whole season to try and stretch his endurance. For now, though, just worry about breaking the streak of unpleasantness. Just worry about getting Cain on a normal cycle of ups and downs before treating him like any other pitcher.

The constant canoe-paddle-to-the-face feeling that accompanies Matt Cain’s starts is wearing me down, and I’m just some dink who watches too much baseball. I can’t imagine being the guy who is actually losing all of these games.

Mercy for Matt Cain. Please. It’s a fine line between a watchable team and sheer torture.