Saturday was a rough day for the defending champions of MLB as the San Francisco Giants were crushed on the road twice by the St. Louis Cardinals in a doubleheader. In the first game, the Cardinals pounced on Matt Cain in the third inning with a whopping nine hits and seven runs. Strangely, Cain was dominant outside of that one nightmarish inning, as he set down the Cardinals in order in all of his six innings except for the third. The second game was not much better for Giants fans. While Madison Bumgarner gave up five earned runs over six innings, Adam Wainwright threw a complete game and only allowed a single run while striking out ten hitters.
The Cardinals have won 23 of their last 30 games, and will look to finish off a sweep against San Francisco with a win today. The Giants will send veteran Chad Gaudin to the mound to try to slow down St. Louis. The 11-year big league veteran was a minor offseason signing for San Francisco but has done a good job out of the bullpen so far this season. Gaudin’s ERA is just 2.05 and his WHIP is 1.24. However, this is the first time Gaudin has been asked to start in quite some time. His last start came back in September of 2009 when he was pitching for the New York Yankees. Gaudin bounced between the bullpen and the starting rotation that year, much like he will be asked to do this year by the Giants. Gaudin will be filling the spot vacated by Ryan Vogelsong, who is on the DL with a fractured hand.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this for the team that swept the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series. There was hope following Tim Lincecum‘s dominant performance as a relief pitcher in the 2012 playoffs that he would regain the form that led him to two Cy Young Awards, but he has once again struggled with consistently controlling his pitches and diminished velocity. Cain has been the big surprise of the group; his ERA is 5.45 and he has been nothing short of a disaster on the mound when the Giants play on the road. Barry Zito and Bumgarner both started the season pitching extremely well, but Zito has been just has bad on the road as Cain this year and Bumgarner has given nine earned runs over his last 12.2 innings. Add in Vogelsong’s broken hand and 7.19 ERA, and it’s not hard to understand why the Giants have not been winning much of late.
Gaudin has the misfortune of having to make his first start in over three and a half years against the Cardinals, who are currently sitting on the best record in baseball at 37-18. Anyone who watched the games yesterday is all too aware of how potent the Cardinals offense is, so Gaudin will have to be on his game if he hopes to put together a decent outing. Manager Bruce Bochy is likely not going to be looking for any more than five or six innings from Gaudin, and one would have to think that the Giants will be happy if he can keep the Cardinals to just a couple of runs through the fifth inning.
That may not seem like much, but it would be a heck of a lot more than what the Giants have been getting from their starters lately.