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Giants shut down by Chase Anderson, Brewers

Matt Cain was hit hard again, and the Giants couldn’t catch up.

San Francisco Giants v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

To be fair to Matt Cain, he was the victim of some bad luck. He missed a crucial double play because of defensive positioning, and the biggest hit of the night was a 200-foot bloop from an accountant having one of baseball’s most random seasons. The biggest hits of the night might have been the luckiest.

To be fair to your intelligence, that doesn’t mean Cain was very good.

Cain allowed 12 baserunners in five innings, striking out three. He gave up five runs, including one on a very long home run. At the end of April, his ERA was 2.30, and he was consistently keeping the Giants in the game. Since then, his ERA is 6.75 in seven starts, and he’s walked nearly as many (18) as he’s struck out (20).

It’s probably time for the Giants to start planning for life after Matt Cain. I mean, it was probably time for that in the offseason, if not 2015. But it’s really time now. This blog started in 2005, the same year as Cain, and you’ll never read a word of regret or anger directed toward him. He is, clearly, one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history, part of an individual and collective level of success that most players will never touch.

Cain is essentially Todd Wellemeyer now, though. His walk rate is up. His strikeout rate is down. There have been glimmers, and I was absolutely ready to believe in them, but I don’t think this second act to his career is just setting up the Vogelsong-like renaissance.

There was some rotten luck, remember. But he also threw 87 pitches on the night, and the Brewers swung and missed four of them.

In a season like this, there’s no rush, no urgency. It’s not as if Tyler Beede is dominating Triple-A. There isn’t a Giants pitching prospect in the upper minors who is forcing his way to the majors. This isn’t a call to action. These starts will continue, and they’ll be mixed with 5 IP, 3 ER starts, with an occasional 7 IP, 1 ER start to make us daydream about just how awesome it would be for a Matt Cain renaissance. It would have been the story of the season, something that would have made this ugly season a little prettier. I was so in.

As is, Cain will keep doing his thing, and sometimes it’ll work. In August or September, Madison Bumgarner will come back, and Cain will be the obvious odd man out, assuming Ty Blach doesn’t implode. There will be no dramatic roster move, no DFA, no uncomfortable call into Bruce Bochy’s office. It’ll fade out, slowly, which I guess is something of a silver lining. We never had to read “GIANTS RELEASE LINCECUM” headlines, and I’m kind of glad about that, looking back. This is a similar situation.

If it seems weird for me to be this glum after an unlucky-not-that-bad start, know that I’ll be right back here to giggle and clap the next time Cain has a fine, yeomanlike start. Those nights are enjoyable.

This was not one of those nights.

I haven’t even started talking about the lineup.

The lineup that scored two runs and deserved one, that is. Eduardo Nuñez was 3-for-4 because he wants to play for a contender, and I respect that. Denard Span and Buster Posey each had two hits, and Posey even got a rare RBI. The 5-through-8 hitters were a combined 1-for-15 with a walk. Every one of them left three runners on base, except for Brandon Crawford, who left two.

Chase Anderson isn’t just a complete sentence. He’s pretty good. So there’s no shame in losing to him or getting shut down by him on his best day.

The problem is that it’s hard to know where Anderson’s best days end and the Giants’ worst days begin. The Giants are getting shut down so often, by a variety of so many different pitchers, that it’s hard to give anyone the proper credit or blame. Yes, it’s the pitcher. Yes, it’s the lineup. Yes, it’s all of it.

It’s worth remembering that the Giants haven’t enjoyed a lot of incomprehensible hot streaks from anyone. Posey’s been outstanding for the most part, yes, but where’s the scorching month from a Brandon? Where are the 30 days of line drives from Joe Panik? Where’s the left fielder who wants to stay in the lineup? My guess is that before the end of the season, we’ll get some of those, and it’ll help make the games more exciting.

Until then, the Giants lost again. They scored two runs, and one of them came on a botched double play. This is a sleepy, sleepy team when things aren’t going well. Which is to say, this is a sleepy, sleepy team right now.

Mostly, I’m just killing time between Austin Slater at-bats, and he’s not even doing well. I’d like something to remember 2017 for other than dirt bikes and Sam Dyson, please.

I mean, screw it, get Tim Lincecum back for a start, just so we can cheer like wildlings one last time when he takes the mound.

I’m not sure if I’m kidding at this point. Burn it all down and use the ashes to fertilize my nostalgia, really.

Back in 2013, immediately following a brutal extra-inning loss, the Giants acquired Jeff Francoeur, who had spent most of his career not being very good. The move reeked of desperation, with a floundering team clawing at whatever throw-it-to-the-wall-see-what-sticks strategy they had available. It was a depressing, obvious, unfortunate move.

In 2017, the Giants acquired Sam Dyson, who was the worst reliever in baseball this season. And the reaction is, if I might put words in your mouth, “Whatever.” At least it should be. This isn’t the Francoeur move, made when the Giants still had a little unrealistic hope. This is the perfect move for a team that used the first two months of the season to sabotage as much as possible. Maybe it’ll work. It probably won’t, but maybe it will. There’s very little risk.

Mostly, though, whatever.

Say it with me! It feels good, actually.


That’s the spirit. The more dull losses we watch like this one, the easier it is to say “whatever” and believe it. And once you’ve let go, you can get disproportionately excited about, say, Austin Slater. Because I’m already there. Call up Jae-gyun Hwang and Chris Shaw while you’re at it. Meaningless games can be super fun, especially when it’s impossible to worry about the outcome.

And I’m only half-kidding about the Lincecum idea. I’m open for all sorts of silly side quests at this point.