This all feels artificial. It's too scripted. You -- yes, you -- have your own personal Wizard of Oz, sitting behind a curtain, pushing the buttons, controlling the events that shape your life and personality. Right now, he or she is being obnoxiously blunt. Maybe he or she is a temp, and the finesse will come with experience. Right now, it's too on the nose, too obvious. A recap:
Matt Cain couldn't finish an inning, possibly because he's hurt.
Zack Wheeler pitched brilliantly, shutting the Giants down.
Wheeler could have matched up against Barry Zito. There aren't any metaphors to find there. "Former top pick shuts down team that traded him," isn't an omen. That's just a drag. Wheeler could have struggled through a few innings, getting the win but looking very much like a young pitcher. He could have dueled with Cain in a pitcher's duel and come out ahead. I probably would have taken that for an omen, but apparently it can get more omeny.
It had to be Cain and Wheeler. It had to be at the end of an embarrassing sweep. And it had to work out just the way it did. Here's Cain's injury history:
- day-to-day once for hamstring soreness
- day-to-day four times for contusions
- two weeks in spring training because of elbow inflammation (2011)
That's it. Cain has thrown 253 games in the majors, and that's the extent of his injury history. He's never missed a regular-season game.
Yet on the exact day Zack Wheeler comes to town, this happens:
No surprise after that first inning, but I’m told there have been in-house discussions about Cain’s health in recent days.— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) July 10, 2013
Before we start running around like someone threw a beehive in the shower, note that nothing's official. Cain says he's okay. Bochy says he's okay. There were in-house discussions in 2011, too, and Cain was just fine. When Bruce Bochy walked to the mound with two outs in the first inning, Cain mouthed something like, "You gotta be (expletive) kidding me," so it's not like he feels so broken that he knew exactly why Bochy was coming out.
Even the idea of what could be ailing Cain is nebulous. We're quick to think "shoulder" or "elbow" because baseball fans are used to preparing for the worst with pitchers, but considering Cain's velocity and up-and-down stuff, I don't think that has to be the case. Could be a back, a knee, maybe an ankle, blisters ... there are a lot of maladies that can mess with a pitcher's command.
But Matt Cain couldn't finish an inning. And on the other side, Zack Wheeler was dominating. Good fastball, good breaking balls, looks like a franchise pillar, everything looks good.
That's too obvious, universe. Writers are taught to show, not tell. Right now, you're telling. It's killing the effect.
Nothing that's happened so far in this season would have been a deal breaker when you were selling your soul last year. Regression, broken pitching, ex-prospect knife-twists, arrests, injuries, Puig ... nothing would have been a deal breaker. We would have accepted that debt gladly.
That doesn't mean this is easy to watch. Doesn't mean it's easy to take. We were expecting a contender. We got a death spiral.
Dumbing it down: The Giants were swept and humiliated by the Mets, they signed Jeff Francoeur, the prospect who got away shut the Giants down in the same game that Matt Cain couldn't get out of the first inning, and news leaked that one of the Giants' pitchers was arrested for some horrible stuff.
They're going to give away fedoras soon, you know. So it all evens out.
Jeff Francoeur is coming.
The Giants scored two runs. These runs were like the seedling plant in WALL-E, offering hope for the distant future, ruining the perfection of Wheeler's debut against the Giants. If Wheeler pitched the shutout, that would have been a groundhog's shadow telling us to prepare for a 40-year winter.
Instead, hey, maybe it's awful instead of hopeless.