Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Thoughts: What's wrong with Matt Cain?
By David Schoenfield
Some quick reactions to Monday's fine major league baseball action ...
The Giants on Monday recorded their first win of the season in a game that Matt Cain started.
The good news for the Giants: A 6-4 win over the Diamondbacks to snap a five-game losing streak and a win for the first time when Matt Cain started. The bad news: Cain scuffled yet again. Cain was sailing along until the fourth inning, when he served up home runs to Jason Kubel, Eric Chavez and Martin Prado. Cain left with a no-decision, and while he remains winless in six starts, it's not just poor run support that explains his 0-2 record. He's allowed nine home runs in his past four starts, including three in two of those. He'd allowed three in a game just twice in the previous three seasons. He also walked four against Arizona. Should the Giants be worried? Kubel and Prado hit fastballs that were both down and in, while Chavez hit a changeup off the plate out to left. Blame Cain for the first two, but give Chavez credit for his. Hitters have been doing a lot of damage off Cain's fastball, hitting .264/.354/.528, compared to a .255/.332/.429 line last year. I think he'll be fine but everyone seems to agree that his stuff just hasn't been as sharp. Keep an eye on his fastball next time out; as with nearly every starting pitcher, everything else plays off the fastball.
The Matt Harvey-Jose Fernandez matchup kind of fizzled as Fernandez lasted just four innings and 81 pitches while Harvey was pulled in the sixth after laboring through 121 pitches. The game ended up going 15 innings, thanks primarily to the Mets going 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position. The game featured 512 pitches, 16 pitchers and last more than 5 hours. Not exactly one for the time capsule. Shaun Marcum, who had started and threw 70 pitches on Saturday, ended up taking the loss for the Mets, giving up two runs in the bottom of the 15th after the Mets had scored in the top of the inning. At 10-14, reality is starting to hit the Mets: They're not very good. As for Fernandez, after a dominating first two starts, he's been hit around a bit, primarily to hitters jumping on his fastball early in the count. They're hitting .367 off the pitch in his past three starts. He's going to be a very good pitcher but he's learning that it's a big leap from Class A to the majors.
Giancarlo Stanton landed on the DL after the game with a strained right hamstring suffered in the 10th inning. A shame, especially considering he had homered three times in six at-bats entering the game and looked ready to begin a patented Stanton terror. He missed time last year with a knee problem and then a strained intercostal muscle and you have to start wondering if durability is going to be an issue with him.
Indians 9, Royals 0. Takeaways: 1. Ubaldo Jimenez won a game! Don't count on this becoming a regular habit. 2. Jason Kipnis hit his first home run. Kipnis (.185/.260/.277) and Lonnie Chisenhall (0-for-4, .221/.254/.368) have to start producing if the Indians want to do anything. 3. Eric Hosmer, another doughnut; .250, three doubles, no homers now and the frustrations build. 4. The Wade Davis (4.2 IP, 12 H, 8 R) starter experiment is probably nearing its end. His stuff just doesn't play up as a starter. Move him back to the pen where he was so good last year with Tampa and give Bruce Chen or Luke Hochevar another shot at the rotation. Wait, did I just say to start Bruce Chen or Luke Hochevar?
Props to the Brewers: After starting 2-8, they'll end up finishing April with a winning record after beating the Pirates 10-4 to go to 13-11. Starter Yovani Gallardo hit his second home run -- one of five the Brewers hit -- and gave up just three hits in seven innings. Jean Segura is really looking good for the Brewers, with three more hits to raise his average to .364.