Forever Giant: Happy Matt Cain Day (Game 161 Preview)

Today’s Game: Padres (70-90) at Giants (63-97), 1:05 p.m. at AT & T Park

Jhoulys Chacin (13-10, 4.98 ERA) vs. Matt Cain (3-11, 5.66 ERA)

by Dr. Lefty

There was something for everyone last night. For those to whom it mattered (and I’m one of them), the Giants will not lose 100 games this season. Chris Stratton made a strong statement that he’s coming through the rotation door as Matt Cain exits it. (Just as we all predicted back in March, the Giants’ pitching staff has four shutouts this year, and Stratton started two of them–and none of them were started by Bumgarner or Cueto.) The guys who were supposed to be the heart of the offense–Posey, Pence, Crawford, Panik–all had big nights at the plate, with Slappy Ol’ Buster hitting three (3) RBI doubles. This video link’s for you, PJ.

Kyle Crick reminded us that he, along with Stratton, was a first-round pick, lo, these many years ago. And there was the always moving Willie Mac Award ceremony–congrats to Nick Hundley for joining the list of winners.

 

 

Oh, and the Phillies won, so if the Giants either lose one more or the Phils win one more, the Giants are assured of, at worst, the #2 pick in next year’s draft. (Gotta respect that finishing kick the Tigers are putting on. Sometimes you have to tip your cap.)

Matt Cain Day

There’s been so much written this week about Matt Cain since he announced his impending retirement before Wednesday’s game. I can’t do justice to or improve on it, but here are some great articles from Grant Brisbee, from Henry Schulman, and from Andrew Baggarly. There also was an emotional interview on KNBR with Dave Righetti yesterday, where, among other things, he shared a story from Cain’s first full season where he almost got sent to AAA but then one-hit the A’s in his next start instead.  Here’s a link to the podcast if you’re interested.  And here’s a nice retrospective that just dropped from a KNBR Giants writer.

My favorite Matt Cain memory

I won’t rehash the perfect game or the postgame heroics, as others have and will. Instead, I’ll rehash my own personal favorite Matt Cain start, which was on August 1, 2010, my 50th birthday. I bought really nice tickets in Section 208 for eight of us, friends and family. We had brunch before at the Waterbar on the Embarcadero near the park, and my family chipped in for the KitchenAid mixer I’d been dying for. But what I really wanted for my 50th birthday was for the Giants to beat the Dodgers, completing a three-game sweep. I’m not stupid or a child, and I knew there was no guarantee that I’d get the win I wanted just because it was my big birthday. (It was also Madison Bumgarner’s 21st birthday that day. I joked about sending him a margarita to the dugout so we could toast our day.)

Anyway, the pitching matchup was Kershaw vs. Cain. Kershaw hadn’t quite yet become the thorn to the Giants that he’s been since, but in his previous start, he had hit Aaron Rowand in retaliation during a game at Dodger Stadium (much better known as the “Donnie Two Trips” game) and was just coming off his suspension to ruin my birthday. As for Cain, even though he’d been in the league five years by then, he had never beaten the Dodgers in his career.

I got my birthday wish. Cain beat Kershaw 2-0, with Brian Wilson nailing down the save and Javier Lopez, who had been traded to the Giants in a deadline deal the day before, making his Giants debut. In a moment of irony, Kershaw intentionally walked Rowand in the sixth inning to get to Edgar Renteria, who took umbrage and drove in the only two runs Cain would need.

“I always get (ticked) off when they do that,” Renteria said. “You never wake up the baby.”

Cain pitched seven brilliant innings, 4 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, and (obviously) no runs.  And his postgame quote about how he felt about finally beating the Dodgers says it all about the kind of Giant Cain was and still is.

“I wanted to win,” he said, “but more than that, we needed to do it as a group.”

Thanks for everything, Matt. Enjoy your family and your golf game. You’ve earned the rest.

Here are the lineups for today’s game, with the Perfect Game Battery out for one last hurrah. Back with more after the game.