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Giants win in extras behind Matt Cain

The offense exploded for two runs, and the bullpen took care of the rest.

San Francicso Giants v Kansas City Royals Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The Giants won a baseball game, and that is a gift. Matt Cain pitched well, and they used to call him The Horse. So this game was literally a gift horse, and we shouldn’t look it in oh dammit no, no, no, hold on, I’ll start over.

The Giants won a baseball game, and we shouldn’t be concerned about the particulars. That they had as many runs in the first 10 innings as they had runners thrown out at home. That they somehow managed to go 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position and still score two runs in 11 innings. That the bullpen wobbled around like Jay Johnston’s last version of The Story of Everest.

Which was super effective, considering the last 10 months were the first three versions of The Story of Everest.

No, it was a win. A precious, unique win that we will love and provide for just like the other wins. Matt Cain was outstanding. Joe Panik was the hero, and Nick Hundley picked the best time out of his five at-bats to get a hit. Five Giants relievers combined for four innings of the shakiest batch of shutout ball we’ve seen in months. Don’t ask what it means.

That that Royals are as unwatchable as the Giants and it was their turn to step in it tonight?

DON’T ASK WHAT IT MEANS. Just appreciate the win and appreciate the people who made it happen.

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Matt Cain, who has thrown two more solid starts than I thought he would have all season, is pitching like he’s on an apology tour. Except on this tour, we’re all apologizing to him, not the other way around.

There are red flags. Do not ignore these red flags. His ERA is 3.31, but his FIP is 5.29. He’s struck out 6.6 batters per nine innings, while walking 4.4. Those are not numbers that make me want to prep the “CAIN IS BACK” post that I’ve had in the can for the last four seasons.

Still, this was his best start of the year, and it wasn’t even close. It made me wonder about the Royals, and how they’re a slappy, scrappy team (not unlike the Giants) without a lot of players worrying about hitting the ball in the air. This isn’t a team that’s subscribing to the launch-angle revolution. Perhaps they’re a throwback to 2009, when Matt Cain was eating hitters alive.

Or maybe Cain was hitting his spots and executing. I’ll be honest, I’ve been doing this for years, and I still have no idea how to tell the difference. We’ll have to lean on the folks at Brooks Baseball to figure this out.

Let’s see, Cain was sitting between 88 and 90 for the most part, which is less than ideal. But he got eight swing-throughs, which isn’t too bad. He maxed out at 17 pitches in his most taxing inning, which is outstanding. He wasn’t grinding, grinding, grinding, like he was in the past. Was he mixing his pitches well?

He was basically choosing A-D-A-D-A-D on the multiple choice test, and he didn’t just get a passing grade: He thrived.

The location was up, which is how Cain used to live, but I’m thinking he got away with a lot because the Royals are just as polite as the Giants when it comes to arrogant, showy displays of power.

(From the catcher’s perspective)

This was Cain’s best start in nearly a year, so let’s see what I thought about that last dominant outing:

But it was still an excellent, excellent start. His second in a row. You don't have to believe just yet. But you can suspend your disbelief that it can happen at all.

* * *

Cain didn't get the win, of course

Probably a coincidence. But look at me. Checking this gift horse for gingivitis. Matt Cain had a strong start and he didn’t get any run support, just like the old days.

Man, how I missed those old days.

Joe Panik has been, along with Brandon Crawford, the steadiest player on the Giants. That goes for his offense and defense, just like Crawford. If I may go out on a limb, I might suggest that the Giants are glad they have both of those particular players.

But it was Panik’s night to get some attention, and he had two well-timed hits and a walk, looking very much like the All-Star from 2015. That version `walked more than he struck out, and he swung violently when he got the pitch over the plate. He didn’t look like someone who was unlucky and frustrated (like he was last year) or dealing with concussion symptoms (like he was last year).

It’s early, but I remember this Panik. He was awesome.

And he was consistent. I don’t know what this means, but I found it in my photo tool:

He’s just a nice, balanced young man.

Buster Posey was 3-for-5 in his return, but all I have in my notes are complaints about his at-bat in the 10th inning.

I will scratch these notes out and replace them with notes to appreciate Buster Posey more.

Mark Melancon retired every hitter he faced in 34 of his outings last season. He appeared in 75 games.

In case if you were wondering if he was suddenly bad now. No. No, he’s not. He’s actually quite good. It’s just that relievers allow baserunners, like all pitchers, just fewer of them.

We’re just a little messed up and jumpy. That’s all.