Saturday, October 1, 2016

New York 86 74 - Clinched tie for wild-card spot.
GIANTS 85 75 - Another high-spirited victory.
St Louis 84 76 1 Martinez with the shutout. 

Giants beat LA, 9-3.
New York defeated Philadelphia, 5-1.
St Louis blanked Pittsburgh, 7-0.

Giants host LA; 4:05 PM local time (7:05 EDT) at the 'Bell. Rookie Ty Blach against Clayton Kershaw. Yes, we know.
New York is at Philadelphia.
St Louis hosts Pittsburgh. Mike Wacha, recently off the DL, faces rookie Chad Kuhl.
All day games.

Last Night's Game
For the second night in a row, the sixth inning was huge for the Giants. Eight men got on base, seven scoring, before the Dodgers could record the first out, with the ballpark and Giants dugout rocking and rolling in grand style. It hadn't started out that way. Both Madison Bumgarner and his lefty opponent, Rich Hill, were touched for two runs in the first. The Dodgers got four hits off "Bum" in the top; the Giants responded with three hits and a walk in the bottom. Each team had a runner thrown out on the bases, preventing an even bigger inning. But it quieted down a little after that-- until Brandon McCarthy ambled out to pitch the bottom of the sixth. LA had just broken the tie with three more singles off Bumgarner, and had left Hill on deck in the top of the frame. With only 82 pitches under his belt he looked good to go one more. Did Dave Roberts outsmart himself? Well, Angel Pagan walked on four straight pitches, and then came the deluge. Brandon Crawford singled. Kelby Tomlinson, starting at second against the lefty and left in to face the righty, singled to load the bases. Conor Gillaspie pinch-hit for Gordon Beckham (starting for the same reason as Tomlinson) and he ripped a 2-1 pitch into the right-field corner, scoring Pagan and Crawford. Bumgarner then burnished his own legend a little more when he hammered one 'way past Howie Kendrick in left to clear the bases, and it was 6-3. Denard Span, batting for Gorkys Hernandez, singled to left, "Bum" holding third. Roberts brought in Josh Ravin; Brandon Belt had a 1-0 count when he clobbered one high and deep into the superstructure behind center field, some 440 feet away.

That was pretty much it as Bumgarner rolled into the eighth without further mishap. He wasn't dominant, allowing eight hits and striking out just five over 107 pitches. He retired Andrew Toles to open the frame, then yielded to Derek Law, who struck out Yasiel Puig on a down-the-middle third strike the surly Cuban evidently could not believe. He stared long and hard at umpire Andy Fletcher until Roberts came out and rescued him from any potential disciplinary action; with left-handers on the mound for San Francisco both today and tomorrow, LA needs to see a lot more of Puig. The dramatics over, Law finished it out and Santiago Casilla, greeted with mild applause, again worked a pressure-free and most orderly ninth.  

Old Hundredth
"Bum's" fifteenth win of the season was his first over the Dodgers in a year and a half, and it was also the 100th of his already-storied career. Offline and out of sight, we've been working on our master compilation and ranking of the greatest San Francisco Giants ever, and Bumgarner is movin' on up. He's leading the club with 6 WAR at the moment, which pushes his careeer total up to 26, and he's fast closing in on Jason Schmidt as the fifth-greatest pitcher in San Francisco history. This all two months after turning 27, with 7 years in already.

Bumgarner reached 100 wins in his 214th start, the fastest among the three great homegrown starters the club has developed over the past decade. Matt Cain earned his just two months ago, in his 305th start and his twelfth year as a Giant. Tim Lincecum made it on September 25, 2014. Ironically, the greatest Giants pitcher since Marichal, who started 270 out of his 278 career games, reached the milestone in relief. He came in in the seventh, threw two pitches, got two outs, and earned the win. It was his eighth season and he had made 246 career starts at that point.

Happy Birthday, Matt Cain
Matt Cain turns 32 today.  It's hard to believe for those of us who remember him as a 20-year-old rookie on a bad, bad team in 2005. Even then it was clear Matty was something special. The conventional stats have not been kind to him over the years, and Cooperstown will know him only because of his perfect game in June 2012. For a pitcher with a history of the worst kind of baseball luck-- who else loses two one-hitters in a single season?-- that day was sweet redemption. For one brief shining moment, Matt Cain was the greatest pitcher in the game. And for those of you who claim Matt "hasn't been the same since then," please check the record. Short version: You're wrong.

But Matt hasn't been the same since the injuries began their grim attrition of his skills in 2014, and there's no more than a 50-50 chance he'll even make the Giants' postseason roster (assuming there is a postseason roster). Few, if any, at his age have ever come back from this kind of long, debilitating slide. If this is all starting to read like a valedictory, well, in some sense it is.  No Giant in our memory has ever given more to his team than has Matt Cain. He has one more year to go on his big contract. If there's a way for him to make that one year count, we pray the big guy will find it. 

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