It's easy to fall into the trap of more whining after a defense-fueled blown save cost Matt Cain a win, but the Giants took two of three from the Brewers, who aren't a bad team at all. After the Marlins-related misery from earlier in the week, that's a swell outcome. The Giants even averaged four runs per game! Heatin' up!
Feeling bad for Matt Cain is something of a local tradition, so let's get it out of the way. Cain is still five games under .500 for his career. His career ERA is now 3.32 over 209 starts. He is so good, yet Brett Tomko has a better career winning percentage. That dichotomy makes you want to punch an inanimate object. That was Cain's 22nd career start with seven or more innings, two or fewer runs, and a no-decision. That ties him with Jack Morris, who made 318 more starts than Matt Cain has so far in his career.
That makes you want to punch an animate object. There's probably one close by. Go for it. I can wait.
But when the Giants win, it's easy to forget about all that and focus on how lucky the Giants still are to have Matt Cain. He's so much fun to watch. For the second straight game, the Giants had a starter who went seven and allowed two earned runs. Ho hum. Almost boring. It seems less impressive because just about every starting pitcher does that against the Giants, but this isn't how it is for most other teams. We're, again, spoiled. And gloriously so.
Every time Cain pitches like this, it's worth stepping back and muttering words of amazement under your breath. The same thing goes for AT&T Park -- you should stop what you're doing and marvel that the place exists, at least once a day. Matt Cain is the AT&T Park of pitchers. That would explain the symbiotic relationship, too.
The 2010 Giants made 73 errors all season. The 2012 Giants have made 30 so far. They still have 134 games to play.
It's not like the Giants' defensive problems are entirely the result of errors, either. The tying run in the ninth inning reached base on a Conor Gillaspie error, sure, but it scored when a) Angel Pagan took a wide, arcing route to the ball and b) dove for it, even though it wasn't close, which wouldn't have been so bad if it weren't for c) Melky Cabrera not backing up the play. Just a debacle all around.
Oh, and now Melky Cabrera makes a great running catch and throw in the 11th inning just as I finished writing that. Jerk. And then Javier Lopez makes a diving butt-throw from the 7th dimension to get out of the inning. Come on. I was making a point here. It still stands, even if it isn't quite as relevant as it was for the first ten innings.
But the poor defense is the story of the season so far. I don't know if it's the kind of thing that's a little fluky, or if the whole team is really just a holy shit did they just say Vinny Chulk was warming up what in the hell. Sorry. What I was writing was that I'm not sure if the defense is the kind of thing that's a little fluky, or if the Giants really are this bad in the field.
If the clankmittery is for real, though, that's an awful burden for a team that tries to win with with a delicate balance of stellar pitching and less-than-stellar hitting. Introducing bad defense into the equation is like bringing a bunch of cane toads into a new ecosystem and hoping things work out. They won't. So cut it out, Giants.
That was a very Romo eighth inning -- his first of the year. Heart of the order, two strikeouts and a pop-up, with nary a good swing to be found. Someone asked me what was wrong with Romo this year. Part of me wanted to grab them by the lapels and ask, "Why are you wearing lapels? It's 80 degrees out" before also telling them that Romo had pitched only seven innings before today. That's not a body of work big enough to judge a reliever on. Good gravy.
But I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I was secretly thinking the same thing. Romo didn't have his customary crispness in the early part of this season. He sure did today, though, and it was a beautiful thing to watch. I'm a go and scratch my Sergio Romo bobblehead behind the ears before I write the next section.
My wife is a psychological behaviorist by trade, and she's messed with my mind enough to make me one too. As such, we're raising our kid with the help of positive reinforcements, and … well, there's probably no reason to get too deep into this. Just a thought, though, that if a leadoff hitter walks to start the game, he starts the next game automatically. No grey area. Blanco opened the game with a walk, so he should lead off the next game, no questions asked. That's how I'd run the team.
Hell, make a sticker chart for the leadoff hitter. If he walks, he gets a sticker. If he swings at a pitch out of the zone, you shave his head. This method works for three-year-olds, trust me.
Angel Hernandez actively makes the game of baseball worse. Someone should check into that.
A reminder: The Giants are exactly .5 game out of a playoff spot right now. It's the play-in extra wild-card spot, but still. For all the Sturm und Drang to this point, the Giants aren't in horrible shape. The Giants have been swept twice this year, and all of the games in those sweeps were one-run losses; it's possible that the relative pain and misery of those losses cloud our perspective a bit.
Still would have been cool if Cain got the win, dammit. And I don't even like that stat! I'm compelled to care for some reason. So annoying.