Yes, folks, spring has arrived, and with it the dreaded Season of Puns is here in full force. The Giants departed New York last night, having swept a doubleheader and taken three of four from the Mets, and leaving the freezing rain behind.
Tonight Matt Cain carries his 16-inning scoreless streak into Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark, where he and his teammates will face an old friend, Mat Latos, who just two years ago was a Cy Young Award candidate with the Padres. Remember when the dear departed Jonathan Sanchez lost a pair of 1-0 decisions in 2010, one of them a one-hitter? Latos won both those games. He also went fifteen consecutive starts that year without allowing more than two runs, a most esoteric but still remarkable record that no other pitcher, living or dead, has matched. (And yes, it was our Giants who ended that streak on September 12, 2010, three weeks before clinching the division.)
Last year Latos struggled, as did his team; his W-L inverted from 14-10 to 9-14 and his ERA bumped up by half a run per game. Off he went in trade for the talented but oft-injured Edinson Volquez, whose "breakthrough" season was four years ago and who hasn't been the same since. From our perspective, the Padres gave up on Latos 'way too soon: he's not yet 25 (Volquez is 29) and he's relatively cheap, though arbitration-eligible after this season. Though he's 0-2 so far in three starts for Cincy, with a 8.22 ERA (come to think of it, those numbers look a lot like Tim Lincecum's going into yesterday's game), we wouldn't be a bit surprised if tonight's "Get Off the Mat(t)" showdown resulted in another fine pitchers' duel.
Notes: Lincecum fanned 8 in five innings yesterday, picking up the win despite allowing 9 baserunners in five frames. Intelligently, Bruce Bochy pulled him after five with a nice lead. Ace pitchers' egos sometimes need to be guarded like the Crown Jewels... We're sure enjoying Doctor Longball's frequent housecalls to the Giants clubhouse, and we hope he takes up permanent residency... Another encouraging sign is the way "Boch" continues to shuffle the outfield; Nate Schierholz, in particular, is earning every at-bat he gets... Speaking of good old "No-Hit" Sanchez, it's been rough sailing so far in KC. He's walked ten in twelve-plus innings (!) over three starts, though he did win his only decision. Even more troubling is the 14 hits allowed over the same span, which translates to a frightening 1.9 WHIP.... And a warm salute to a certain Hall-of-Famer and certified Class Act, Ivan Rodriguez, who officially retired from baseball yesterday at a ceremony held in the Rangers' Ballpark at Arlington, Texas.