Good news for the San Francisco Giants: Matt Cain is back.
The bad? Well, as they found out on Tuesday, it’s just not going to be enough to turn the team’s fortunes around in 2013. In a classic case of too little, too late (or just too little to be more specific, really), the Giants’ lack of offense saddled the star righty with a hard-luck 3-1 loss against the Milwaukee Brewers, pushing his record to 7-7 on what has been a disappointing season thus far.
The kicker? What turned out to be the winning run in the fourth innings was scored off a throwing error from Buster Posey.
Yes, at 4-6 in their last 10 and still mired in dead last in the NL West at 12 games back, the Giants aren’t exactly finding ways to win these days. That’s through no fault of Cain, though, who seemed have remembered after the Midsummer Classic that hey, he was a three-time All-Star too.
So, he went back to pitching like one.
Including Tuesday’s seven-inning, four hit gem in which he allowed just two runs and struck out six for the loss, Cain has now thrown three consecutive starts, and hasn’t allowed more than two runs in each his four turns since the break (he lasted five innings in the first one coming back).
That’s enough to give him a stellar 2.00/1.00 ERA/WHIP and .202 BAA through his last 27 innings, in contrast with the 5.06/1.18 that he put up through his first 112 IP.
Think those second set of splits look a little lopsided? Well, you’re right. One of the major reasons why Cain had gone through his struggles in the early part of the season was because of home runs — he’d allowed round-trippers at a 1.29 HR/9 rate mostly thanks to the nine he gave up in April, when he was basically doing so in bunches.
It’s not so much a problem any more these days, though, as the solo homer he gave up on Tuesday was just the first that he’d allowed since the break (and also stretches back through his last seven starts), giving him a 0.33 HR/9 rate in the second half so far.
Combined with the fact that he’s made improvements to his control — his start on Tuesday was the first in his last seven where he did not allow a free pass — and it’s easy to see how he’s done enough to even coax the baseball gods into helping him out a little bit with an 82 percent post-break strand rate (63.4 in first half).
Now, if he can just get them to help the Giants a little bit, too …