Monday, May 6, 2013

Leave it to the Dodgers to make Cain look good again

Was there ever any doubt?

Matt Cain came into Sunday's game winless on the year in six starts with an ERA of 6.49.  He definitely didn't look like the Cain of old who once threw a perfect game with 14 strikeouts.

So naturally, he pitched into the eighth inning and gave up one run against the Dodgers, as the Giants held on for a 4-3 win.  And to answer the question above - no, there was never any doubt.

With Adrian Gonzalez again a late scratch because of a sore neck, the comically bad lineup included the names of Luis Cruz at third and Juan Uribe at first.  Nick Punto had been swinging well and started at second, so it was only right for him to go 0-for-5.  He did his best to fit in well, and it showed.

Hyun-Jin Ryu found himself in immediately trouble in the first.  Before you could blink, Andres Torres, Marco Scutaro, and Pablo Sandoval all singled to load the bases.  Much to Ryu's credit, he only surrendered one run on an RBI fielder's choice by Hunter Pence.  That could've been a whole lot worse.

This night belonged to Pence, as he was responsible for driving in all four Giants' runs.  The second RBI came in the third.  Scutaro again singled with one out and Buster Posey walked with two.  Pence smoked a double to left, and it was 2-0.

In case you thought Cain was mowing down the Dodgers left and right, that wasn't exactly the case.  In fact, the Dodgers got at least a runner in scoring position in five of the first six innings: Matt Kemp in the first, Uribe in the second, Carl Crawford in the third, Dee Gordon in the fifth, and Andre Ethier in the sixth.  Take a wild guess if any of them scored.  Uh, no.

Pence struck again in the fifth to increase the lead for the Giants to four.  Torres singled leading off but was erased on a pickoff by Ryu.  He finally got Scutaro to fly out for two down.  Then Sandoval walked, Posey singled, and Pence brought them both in with a two-run double.  Two-out damage started by a walk.  Burns pitchers all the time.

The Dodgers mercifully got something to go their way during a long eighth inning in which they nearly tied the game.  Bruce Bochy used five different pitchers as the Dodgers scored three runs, but again stranded a couple.

It all started on a one-out walk to Kemp, which signaled the end of the night for Cain after 109 pitches.  Javier Lopez, the left-handed specialist, got Ethier swinging for two down.  It figures.  Ethier whines about not playing against lefties, but then does a big pile of nothing against them.  I think the Dodgers need to give seriously consideration to trading him.  He looks like he doesn't have any big hits left in his bat.

Anyway, George Kontos came in and was pretty bad, as Ellis singled and Uribe walked to load 'em up.  That's when Gonzalez was called on to pinch-hit, which Bochy countered with lefty Jeremy Affeldt.  Gonzo was able to hit a two-run single up the middle to make it 4-2.  Gordon scored another run on an infield single, and it was 4-3.  Jerry Hairston pinch-hit and struck out against Jean Machi to end the inning.

Kenley Jansen completely blew the Giants away by striking out the side to send the game to the ninth.  Even with the top of the order up, the Dodgers went down meekly in order, as Romo collected his 12th save.

I'll give the Dodgers credit for coming back in the eighth, as Lord knows they blew plenty of chances to score before that.  They actually moved runners along that inning and took a couple of walks.  It didn't matter in the end, but at least the Giants had to sweat a little.  That counts for something, right?

Ryu wasn't at his sharpest, as he lasted six innings for eight hits, four runs, two walks, and two strikeouts.  The two K's was a season-low, as he next lowest was five against the Giants in his first start.  It's not like his offense gave him any support anyway, so he was in a no-win situation.  Such is life when you pitch for the Dodgers.

At 13-17, this season is obviously a big disappointment so far.  Injuries, no clutch hitting, and a leaky bullpen have completely hammered this team.  On nights they pitch well, they can't score.  On nights they score, they can't hold the lead.  On nights they do both right... well, they may still find a way to lose.  That's the way it's been.

The Dodgers have six games at home this week: three vs. the Diamondbacks and three vs. the Marlins.  Combined they have a 26-37 record.  So, if Dodgers are ever going to start chipping away and getting better, this would be a good week for it.  Although, they could also bury themselves even more by continuing to play like crap.  Chris Capuano comes off the DL to go on Monday.

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