When the Miami Marlins came to town last year with Matt Cain on the mound, my son and I took his grandmother visiting from India. Here they are after the game, and you can see the Marlins crushed us 7-2:
In fact, Miami historically score a lot of runs at AT&T and have forced the Giants to do the same to get their wins. So yesterday, after Matt Cain fell behind early 1-4, it looked like the same old script: Cain gets behind early, gets no run support, but settles in and quiets the opponent, scattering a few more hits, only to lose because the Giants can’t plate any runners.
Not this time. Even with Belt out, the Giants lineup looked daunting and filled with guys who have been hitting this year: Pence, Morse, Colvin, Posey … and even Sandoval, who entered the game with a slump-breaking six game hitting streak. It looked on paper like a lineup that could, possibly, maybe, finally produce run support for Cain.
Flashback for Perspective
Five years ago, in 2009, when the Giants at (79-66) were chasing the Rockies (82-64) and a shot at the Wild Card for the playoffs, we were within a game and a half with a three game series at AT&T on tap. A sweep would put the Giants in first, my favorite Giant, Matt Cain was on the mound, and it was as close as we had been all year. So I took my son (that little cute guy in the photo there) for his first night game.
Cain followed his incredibly consistent modus operandi: scattering five hits and four runs (via two homers) across six innings. The Giants had runners in scoring position in the 9th down 4-3 and Nate Schierholtz struck out to end the game. This was close as we would get to the playoffs … until the next year when we won it all. : )
But as we all know that game was not only typical of what happened to Matt Cain all that year long, it has continued to this day. The poor guy hasn’t had a win all season because the Giants sometimes can’t score even one bloody run for him.
I want to be honest … it physically hurts when I think what we have done to Matt Cain’s win-loss record. This guy should be HoF bound and may not make it on any ballot because of that win-loss record. That is why he is my favorite Giant … because I know I’m going to be spending the rest of my days arguing for his election to Cooperstown.
But unless you’re the New York Yankees, or now, the Dodgers or Angels, help for the batting order requires an incremental build up of bats over a few off-seasons. To his great credit, Giants GM Brian Sabean has worked at it: Fontenot and Ross during the season of 2010; Melky, Pagan and Blanco in the offseason and Scutaro and Pence during the season of 2012; and now Michael Morse – the biggest bat of all – in 2014.
Cost Effective? Shoot “Mr. CE” should be Sabean’s nickname. With two rings in four years, he has out-Moneyballed Billy Beane.
So last night, when the Giants bats fought back from a 1-4 deficit to take a 6-4 lead for Matt Cain, I almost wept … years in the making.
Hunter Pence was 3 for 5 and scored three runs. Michael Morse crushed an opposite field home run to right and Buster Posey drilled the go-ahead two-run double to give the Giants the lead they would never relinquish. Way to go Gerald! The increasingly impressive ‘pen did the rest.
And though he wasn’t as much of a factor, Pablo did extend his streak with a hit that advanced Hunter Pence to third and later in the game moved Posey there on a deep sac fly. Posey would score on a Morse single.
This was a significant come from behind win for the Giants.
I really should make mention of Pagan’s at-bat that may have saved this game … but instead I will let El Lefty Malo do it.
There were some negatives: Pablo had another errant throw. We got lucky a ball that hit Pence on the foot (which would have been an automatic out) went unobserved by the refs (and that there is as yet no replay). But all those fall under Category 4: Take Advantage of Others’ Mistakes.
As you must have read by now, staff ace Tim Hudson has been scratched tonight for a minor injury that is basically a “rest scratch” for the oldest guy on staff. Yusmeirio Petit will get his second emergency start of the season. He has been up and down and we are starting to develop a really team-oriented approach to the early season, so I LOVE this: keeping Petit from getting cold and resting the old guy with potential to get injured. It’s just like spelling Pagan and letting Blanco develop in case it has to happen more often. These are all moves that create a 25-man roster that can win any game, with any lineup.
I am starting to get really good feelings about this season. Yesterday, when Cain was down 1-4, for the first time this season, I broke out:
After I put it on, we swarmed back to win.
We have never lost the season or the World Series when either my son or I wear The Necklace every game day.