June 2012

#Reds vs. #SFGiants Series Preview

Likely NL All Star 1B Starter Joey Votto leads the powerful Red bats into the un-homer happy AT&T Park

Two division leaders square off at AT&T Park this weekend, and while this may be surprising to hear, the Reds as a team overall (41-33) are good, but not great. They are however, led by some great players. While the pitching matchups outside of the Thursday may not be anything to get all that up about, even in the first half of the season it wouldn’t be out of hand to say this could be a potential playoff preview where both teams will be paying very close attention to each other.

Thursday, June 28th: RHP Johnny Cueto vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner

One sentence summary: Well that wasn’t nice of these teams to make the best game of the series on paper the first one.

Friday, June 29th: RHP Mike Leake vs. RHP Matt Cain

One sentence summary: Leake has the highest LD% (28.6) on the staff, which explains his high tERA, and would explain why the Giants might score more than their usual output by a little bit against him.

Saturday, June 30th: RHP Mat Latos vs. LHP Barry Zito

One sentence summary: I’ll be at this game, and of the 3 games I’ve gone to, the home team has won every time.

Sunday, July 1st: RHP Bronson Arroyo vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong

One question summary: How the heck did Bronson Arroyo almost get a no hitter in his last start?

Small Sample Sizes (Last 7 Games) and Overall Numbers

Joey Votto with his 14 HR, 1.121 OPS, and .463 wOBA is something to be scared of, but his teammates around him are helping out, which is important when your starting pitchers are used to spinning around after a pitch and watching the ball land in the bleachers. Ryan Ludwick (.483 wOBA, 2 HR, .183 BABIP in L7; .339 wOBA overall) is that player that always seems to be around ready to pounce, as he got those 2 dingers in their last game. Scott Rolen (.432 wOBA, 35.3% K% L7; .260 wOBA overall) is doing his best to contribute, as are guys with double digit homers on the season like Jay Bruce (.354 wOBA overall), Brandon Phillips (.340), in addition to Ludwick, and Votto.

Meanwhile, the only double digit HR guy on the Giants is Buster Posey, who is All Star hot at the moment (40% LD%, 2 HR, .579 wOBA, 0% K% L7; .367 wOBA overall). Brandon Belt still is one of the wOBA leaders in the last 7 at .404, but the Dodgers cooled him off a bit, getting on base only one time in nine chances in the series. Remember how Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco were really dragging the team down going into the rivalry series? Well, they’re t-3rd in L7 wOBA at .325 which is right around what they’ve been doing this season (Pagan .336 overall, Blanco .334).

Lucky for us (I think), the games won’t be measured in home runs hit, because the Reds are bound to take a couple deep at least in their four games at AT&T, and even though the Reds starters between them have given up 19 on the road, you don’t go into these games expecting big orange bombs as a team with only 4 more big flies than they have wins (47-43).

Series Prediction

Thursday: Reds win (Cueto’s pretty good; MadBum gets Cain’d)

Friday: Giants win (Matt Cain is better than you)

Saturday: Giants win (Mat Latos hates San Francisco)

Sunday: Giants win (Bronson ArroyLOL and his kitchen sink repertoire)

At the end of the weekend, if the Giants even split the series, it’s hard to imagine them not having sole possession of first in the NL West. We shall see though, and your friendly reminder that we’re not even halfway through the season.

From 0-27 By the Numbers: #SFGiants sweep #Dodgers

The Giants held all the keys to victory in this series

0: Runs scored by the Dodgers

1: Guys in the Giants bullpen that was not used (Hensley)

2: Times the Dodgers have beat the Giants this season

3: Games James Loney didn’t start this series

4: Times the Giants have beat the Dodgers this season

5: The number of times the Dodgers swung and missed at a Barry Zito pitch

6: Pitchers between both teams used each game

7: Innings each Giants starting pitcher went

7.5: Games back Giants were of the Dodgers a month ago

8: Hits the Giants had in Game 2

9: Dodgers struck out in the final game

10: Hits the Giants had in Game 3

11: Pitches Sergio Romo needed to get the final 4 outs of the series

12: Games the Giants and Dodgers still have yet to play this season

13: Hits Giants had in Game 1

14: Number of curveballs, and two seam fastballs Timmy threw today

15: Nathan Eovaldi’s Game Score from Friday

16: Hits the Dodgers had in all three games

17: The MPH difference between Timmy’s fastest fastball, and his slowest curveball today

18: AB the Dodgers had with RISP this series

19: Road wins the Dodgers had coming into AT&T

20: Times Giants struck out in the 3 games

Broke another one

21: Men the Dodgers LOB in the series

22: First-pitch strikes Chad Billingsley had in the final game

23: Pitches Scott Elbert needed to complete his inning, but no Giants pitcher (starter or reliever) needed more than 21

24: Outs each game the Giants got into… but scored runs

25: Men the Giants LOB in the series

26: Pitches Brandon Crawford saw in his two starts

27: Outs each game the Dodgers got into without scoring a run

Again with the jumping!

The Passion of the Rivalry

Everywhere you go, there is a rivalry. The only place I’ve ever been that may not have had one was my preschool, and even though it would’ve been kind of hilarious to see a preschool across the street from a Jodo Shinshu Buddhism temple have a competitive spirit with a preschool with a Jodo Shu Buddhism influence, this was clearly not thought out by these caretakers, as if they had something better to be concerned about. I know who my rivals were in elementary school (Noble), middle school (Morril the former prison, Sierramont), and high school (Independence; Lynbrook), as well as at the universities I attended (Fullerton/Irvine; UCLA). Now that the Dodgers are in town, the good, respectful fanbases of San Francisco and Los Angeles get to come together and share their love for each other:

I’d love to say my fanbase is better than your fanbase, or the fans in my community our more smarter then the ones in you’re neyberhood, but there’s so much trash out there, it’s hard to tell. I will be honest and say I was part of the group that was the trash: endless expletives about the Dodgers with no rationale to accompany it. Typically it was “my pitcher is better than your bullpen catcher” or “our cotton candy guy would end your VIP group sales girl,” you know, stuff the typical fan shouts out.

This is the part where I tell you I’m better than that. I really am, except for the times when my fiancee puts on a Dodger cap and I say something that rhymes with “Truck that pit” which may happen 1-2x a month. I’ll laugh when fans get creative, but in the grand scheme of things, I don’t enjoy the profane, unintelligent banter that goes back and forth (see above screen shot). Jeremy Affeldt last year quoteed that one Meet the Parents movie where everything bad happens to Ben Stiller where he says “Baseball, it’s just a game, you stupid dumb*hits.” Something like that.

Fans can do better than this.

Rivalries can be great for sports, great for revenue, and great for the intensity of the games we watch. A Giants-Dodgers game means a helluva lot more to me than a Giants-Pirates game. But if the only thing you can say about a game is “F*** [team of baseball],” then if I had a choice I’d really rather you not be a part of this whole baseball watching activity. Sure, baseball is comparable to a chess match, since it can take up to 1/8 or 1/6 of the day (and not even for your non-sleeping part of your day), and the game requires a lot of thought and strategy. If people put as much thought into their dialogue with their “enemies” as managers did into their decisions, the quality of learning and baseball brother/sisterhood would be so much better. There’s a lot of shallow shouting going on, and it probably won’t end, but in a country where people have access to debate tactics, resources to educate themselves, and spellcheck,  you’d think we could do be better.

The Better Reliever (With Polls!)

Teams are always looking to put themselves in the best position to win, and the field manager (AKA the in-game decision makers) are constantly evaluating and predicting outcomes as well as trying to be a step ahead of his opponent in the other dugout. When it comes to late in the game when we get into the “higher leverage” situations, you need a strategy as to whom you want to use when. Unfortunately, a lot of coaches decide there is a set 7th inning, 8th inning, and 9th inning guy, which is completely ridiculous considering you may face the biggest threat to your winning in the 8th inning while the Brandon Crawfords of the world are the next 3 due up in the 9th. This is not a matter of using your best pitcher on the staff, but rather using the best reliever you have waiting to be used, assuming they are available for the game. Since this is a Giants blog and a set of stats comparing relievers would be fairly predictable, I decided I would throw you off by including two sets of relievers for you to be the judge of. On these two teams, which reliever would you rather have in a higher leverage situation? Each of these pitchers is either a set-up man, or a closer for their respective organization and is not strictly a platoon guy. All numbers are their stats for 2012, and yes I know, SSS, so maybe this whole article’s just a trap:

For a reliever used late in the game, their velocity on fastballs is at least in the low-90’s to triple digits sometimes, so I didn’t include that because it’s not like they’re throwing Jamie Moyer stuff while scoring that high a K/9. The numbers that I feel matter most are the ones shown above.

I’m really biased towards strikeouts because if my guy on the mound has the tendency to avoid a ball put in play altogether, give me that guy, as long as he’s also not walking the park (a la Jonathan Sanchez). For Team A’s RP, I look at that FIP and tERA and see they’re mostly similar, with the SIERA and the K/9 really giving RP B the edge. A lower rate of line drives and an unusual amount of infield fly balls that is well higher than his career IFFB rate is pretty interesting and bound to come down. That ground ball rate may raise that BABIP later on, but I give the slight edge to reliever B. Let’s make this interactive and see who you’d choose though:

Taking a look at the two relievers from Team B, it’s pretty obvious to me who should be the pick, but the line drive percentage is a little higher than reliever B, but that’s just one number in favor for reliever B against the many others for reliever A. Maybe I’m crazy and I don’t see something though. Greater number of K’s, about the same number of BB’s, less HR allowed, great defensive independent stats for reliever A.

As for who these mystery men are, I give to you the following links for your viewing pleasure:

Team A’s Depth Chart

Reliever A

Reliever B

Team B’s Depth Chart

Reliever A

Reliever B

Hats off to you if you knew who all four of these guys were without cheating.

#Dodgers vs. #SFGiants Series Preview

One of these Elian’s will lead his squad into AT&T, but which one will it be?

When 2012 started, the Dodgers were supposed to be a middle of the pack type of team. Maybe if Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw could carry their team, they could be a dark horse. Instead, they’re going all 2010 San Diego Padres, 2010 San Francisco Giants, 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks  on the NL West. They’re 13 games over .500 and 3 games better than the good guys. The Giants can make up all that ground over the course of a series, but with Zeeters and an inconsistent Timmy going, they’re just as likely to go backwards as they are forwards.

Monday, June 24th: RHP Nathan Eovaldi vs. LHP Barry Zito

One question summary: Can you believe Barry Zito went 6 against Texas after that horrific outing against LAA?

Tuesday, June 25th: LHP Clayton Kershaw vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong

One sentence summary: After outdueling Kershaw in May, TV viewers will get to hear non-stop questions about whether Vogey can do it again (and if the offense can blah blah blah).

Wednesday, June 25th: RHP Chad Billingsley vs. RHP Tim Lincecum

One sentence summary: You know Timmy’s story, but Billingsley just got roughed up in Anaheim to a lesser extent than Zito did (10 H, 6 ER in 5 IP), and is hoping he can go more than 4 this time around against the orange and black.

Small Sample Sizes (Last 7 Days) and Overall Numbers

Lineup rant: Pablo needs to stop swinging out of his shoes and Belt’s gotta bat higher in the order. One of  the points in baseball is to get on base, right? So why do you have the guy who’s tied for the top OBP batting 6th or 7th? Makes no sense to me. I’d love to see him 1st and Melky 2nd, but that’s another story for another day.

For everyone wondering, Matt Kemp was put on the 15-day DL May 31st, and he has been taking BP, but I haven’t heard a timetable for his return. Looking from a SSS perspective, Juan Rivera (.425 wOBA, .279 overall) is the only Doyer that’s really been looking good lately, but have 6 guys with a batting average under .155 (Abreu, Gordon, Herrera, Uribe, AJ Ellis, Loney) and 4 at/under .100 (EH, JU, AJ, JL) with 3 of them having a wOBA under .100 (JU, AJ, JL). Since all of them don’t normally bat that poorly, it’s only a matter of time before they jump out of their slump, especially Abreu and AJ.

Speaking of guys not hitting well, Nate, Angel, Gregor, and Crawford all have wOBA under .200 and batting averages under .155 themselves, and you may have noticed, but Melky has been cooling down as well, to the tune of a .259 wOBA (.388 overall). As cold as the first four have been, Brandon Belt has been hot: .555 wOBA (helped by a .500 BABIP, and now a .362 wOBA, and .388 OBP… .gif courtesy of David Tiao), and he continues to slowly raise that walk rate and lower that K rate. Joaquin Arias has a .492 wOBA going with a .556 BABIP, but that’s all in 12 PA, so that’s almost a SSSS (super small sample size). Hail to the Buster with his 2 HR in the last 2 games has a .235 BABIP, but a .400 wOBA (.361 wOBA overall, 3rd to Melky, then Belt).

Series Prediction

If the Giants can steal one on Monday, fans will dream of a sweep since Vogey’s beaten Kershaw before. The bats need to light up Eovaldi more than rely on Zito to hold down an MLB/AAAA/AAA/AA/A+/A lineup.

Monday: Dodgers win (Zito)

Tuesday: Giants win (Kershaw gets Cain’d)

Wednesday: Giants win (Timmy restores faith in the hearts of millions, Giants go all BilLOLingsley on Chad)

#SFGiants vs. #Athletics Series Preview

Yoenis Cespedes and his Oakland teammates can’t wait to welcome another NL West opponent into their confines

There’s a lot of talk that the American League is absolutely killing it in this year’s interleague, but would you be able to tell from the Giants experiences in the past week? Well, yes, you would. Going 2-4 in Seattle and Anaheim was not what they had in mind heading into those series, and now they find themselves facing a pretty confident Oakland team that just swept a team that used to hold the best record in the MLB.

Friday, June 22nd: RHP Tim Lincecum vs. RHP Jarrod Parker

One sentence summary: Of his 14 starts, Timmy has allowed 3 or less four times (29%), but has struck out 5+ in all but two (oh and don’t be surprised if no one homers off of Parker).

Saturday, June 23rd: LHP Madison Bumgarner vs. RHP Tyson Ross

One sentence summary: This will be the Giants’ time to strike, as Ross is susceptible to getting roughed up and has not gone longer than 6.2 IP in a start this season.

Sunday, June 24th: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy

One sentence summary: Considered hilarious by many off the mound (I think his bio is awesome), McCarthy is to be taken serious on it, as he’s allowed more than 2 ER in his 12 starts only twice (as for Cain, it’s 4X in 13 starts).

Small Sample Sizes (Last 7 Days) and Season Stats

As one of the many that was excited about Belt in the offseason following the euphoria that was 2010, it’s nice to see him come through at the dish here in 2012, even if it is a bit of a slow start. A .470 wOBA with a 47.7% LD% in the last week are pretty encouraging despite 0 HR, and his .345 wOBA overall is only 4 points behind Buster Posey. Most days, I’d talk about Pablo Sandoval not pulling his weight (sorry) with the .270 wOBA in his L7 and the 12 game no-HR streak he has going, but Angel Pagan (.162 wOBA, -6 wRC+) and Gregor Blanco (.138 wOBA, -23 wRC+) have been scuffling pretty bad this past week. The 1 and 5 spots are pretty vital to a lineup’s success, I’d say, so if they’re going to occupy those spots, they gotta get back up to the above average wRC+ they’ve been used to posting this year.

Josh Reddick has 15 HR this year, but much like Gregor Blanco, has been weak in his L7 with a .136 wOBA (.357 overall) and 0 HR, but you know what’s interesting is two players on the A’s have worse wOBA than that: Brandon Inge (.119, .320 overall), and Kurt Suzuki (.087, .235 wOBA overall). All three of those Athletics have a BABIP and batting average in the last seven of worse than .100. You know they swept the Dodgers, so they’ve got to have some guys doing well: Jonny Gomes (.628, .368 overall, 1 HR L7), Coco Crisp (26% BB% + .457 wOBA compared to 10% + .269 overall), and Brandon Moss (2 HR, .400 wOBA alongside his 7 HR, .476 wOBA in 51 PA overall) are hitting pretty well. Gomes is more of a platoon guy though, so you probably won’t see him until tomorrow.

Series Prediction

My confidence in this team isn’t all that high right now, but when you have MadBum and Cainer going for you, you know they’re going to give you a chance to win. The only question is, how silenced will the Giants bats get against another American League team?

Friday: Athletics win (would really appreciate being wrong here, Timmy)

Saturday: Giants win (not a lot of variation in speed for Tyson could be what gets the Giants bats going)

Sunday: Giants win (the best game being saved for last)

Doing my best Barry Zito impression

You may be surprised to find out that only half of this picture is of Barry Zito

Like Barry Zito, I wake up in the morning and find myself with a woman that I find to be more beautiful than most. I’ve given her a rock she couldn’t refuse, and she at the very least shares the passion for the pastime of baseball. Until last night, that may have been where the similarities ended. I don’t do yoga, I don’t make omelettes, nor have I won any pitching awards, or landed a contract that has me set for life. Actually, we both went to USC, so we’re a part of the same Trojan Family, which should entitle me to part of his contract.

I got the opportunity last night to pitch for my slow-pitch softball team because our other two pitchers were out, and for anyone that’s played in slow pitch you know the pitcher’s job is more to throw strikes and do their best to disrupt the rhythm of the batters, because you’re probably not going to strike anybody out. Long story short of my outing though, most of my pitches got tagged, tattooed, laced, murdered, and we ended up losing 18-3 in four or five innings. I don’t remember, but our offense made the game go quickly (I didn’t help either), despite the other pitcher really not being anything special.

I read a quote from Barry Zito (who got rocked last night) that said something to the effect of, “I tip my cap to the Angels for attacking the strikes I was throwing. They hit the pitches I wanted to throw them, and I prepared for this start the way I wanted to.” Something like that. This is the same thing I’d say about my start last night, and just like Barry Zito, my team wants to (has no choice but to?…) give me another chance to start again later, which is very nice of both teams. Luckily, my slow pitch team doesn’t have to worry about the velocity and control of our pitcher’s pitches, or overworking our inexistent bullpen on nights when I take the mound.

Point is, I am Barry Zito minus all the major league talent (and major league moneys). Create your own punch line as to what that means.

#SFGiants (37-30) vs. #Angels (36-31) Series Preview

You may find this to be a little fishy (get it?), Mark Trumbo is the guy I’m telling you to watch out for.

If you’re like my finacee, the biggest problem you have with the Angels is that they have the city name “Los Angeles” in front of their name when they are clearly in Orange County and the only thing Los Angeles-y about them is that they love the wave, and they’re surrounded by freeways. Their fans drench the seats in red better than the Doyers do in blue, which is kind of cool, and they got a rock in LCF, which I would probably understand if I’d just taken the ballpark tour. Just because this team can never pass the Rangers, don’t think they’re no good, because they are certainly capable.

Monday, June 18th: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Jerome Williams (yes, that Jerome Williams)

One sentence preview: The Angels are about to get Matt Cain’d as many focus on the consecutive batters retired streak of Cain’s.

Tuesday, June 19th: LHP Barry Zito vs. LHP C.J. Wilson

One sentence preview: This may be the pitching mismatch of the series, and I doubt there will be a blister on C.J.’s finger to save the Giants from facing him.

Wednesday, June 20th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. **RHP Jared Weaver

One sentence preview: I’ll be at this game, guys, so don’t worry about it,no matter who the Angels decide to put out there.

The Angels’ Bullpen Guide

Things may be going well for the Giants (or we’re getting blown out) if you see: Hisanori Takahashi, David Pauley, or David Carpenter

Runs might be tougher to come by against: Jason Isringhausen, LaTroy Hawkins, Jordan Walden, Scott Downs, Ernesto Frieri (former Padre)

Small Sample Sizes (SSS) and the 2012 Season for the Bats

While Mike Trout (.396 wOBA, 6 HR, 16 SB, 13.3 wRAA) or some “Pujols” guy (.320 wOBA, 10 HR) you’ve heard of may be the biggest names on the offensive side of the halo, you’d be silly to overlook the strong Mark Trumbo (.418 wOBA, 15 HR, 19.2 wRAA) who is warranting some serious All Star consideration. Erick Aybar hasn’t been doing so bad the past 7 days (.457 wOBA) but with a.467 BABIP and a 7.1 LD% rate, don’t be surprised if Mr. New Contract cools off. Alberto Callaspo (.372 wOBA L7) hasn’t been doing so bad himself lately, but him and Aybar have .286 and .264 wOBA, respectively, so Alberto may just be having one of those times right now.

How’s this for your SSS: in the last 7 games, your 3 highest wOBA on the Giants belong to the BBB: Brandon Belt (.572 L7, .335 overall), Brandon Crawford (.457, .261), and Buster Posey (.434, .357). Melky (35.3%), Pablo (35%), and Belt (35.3%) are all scorching the ball with line drives in their last seven. On the opposite side of things, Angel Pagan hasn’t been producing too much lately (.192 wOBA, .231 BABIP, -2.1 wRAA, 14 wRC+) in his last 7 but maybe some warmer weather will change things up for Mr. Pagan.

Series Prediction

Monday: Giants win (Matt Cain. Any questions?)

Tuesday: Angels win (Although it’d be great if C.J. Wilson could regress to Barry Zito levels for a game)

Wednesday: Giants win in extra innings (Los Angeles and Orange Counties figuring out this Ryan Vogelsong guy is pretty good, while San Francisco gets to see for themselves how good Jared Weaver is)

I know I never predict the Giants lose a series, but with the pitching they throw out there, why should I expect them to lose one? Enjoy the games, ladies and gents!

Understanding the All-Star Case: Buster Posey

What’s your case for Buster being in the ASG?

Fans around the world are voting for their favorite players to be in the All Star Game in Kansas City next month. For some reason voting opens unnecessarily early and lasts until I don’t know when. If it were up to me, I’d have a couple weeks of voting starting around a week ago, and then close it before the last week of June. A lot of people are already voting on small sample sizes (SSS), so why open it up so early? That’s another argument for another day.

There are a few ways to go about voting for your All Star team when you fill out your ballot:

1. You try to pick the players having the best season statistically

2. You pick the players you want to see out there on the field, no matter if they’re not as hot as someone else

3. You pick every players from the team you root for because that page or stadium billboard told you so

4. You pick the best looking players because that’s the only reason you watch baseball anyway

5. You pick the worst players for both sides (I see you trollin’), or just the opposition in hopes your team of All Stars will crush the other team of Brandon Crawfords.

I’m going to go for #1 in this post and get an understanding for why Buster Posey is leading the way he is, but in the end, I believe the fans of baseball vote with their heart (option #2… and maybe 4) and want to give what they believe to be Buster’s due of playing in an All Star Game.

Entering today’s games, here’s some rankings of some stat categories and where you can find the Buster amongst NL catchers:

Home Runs: Y Molina, McCann, Wilin Rosario (9), C Ruiz, Posey (8)

RBI (Because some fans use this stat because they think this is a reasonable measuring stick, but it isn’t):  Molina (36), C Ruiz, Posey (35)

SB: Molina (6), Rosario (3), Ruiz, J Lucroy (2), Posey, McCann (1)

OBP: AJ Ellis (.434), Ruiz (.424), Lucroy (.387), Molina (.378), Ryan Hanigan (.368), Miguel Montero (.358), Posey (.353)

ISO: Rosario (.259), Lucroy (.237), Ruiz (.216), Molina (.191), McCann (.185), Posey (.178)

Line Drive %: Buster is 11th; Molina leads at 25.9%

wOBA: Ruiz (.427), Lucroy (.414), Ellis (.389), Molina (.388), Posey (.356)

wRAA: Ruiz (18.9), Molina (14.1), Ellis (12.6), Lucroy (11.9), Posey (7.6)

wRC+ has the same order as wOBA.

fWAR: Ruiz (3.2), Ellis (3.0), Molina (2.9), Lucroy (1.8), Posey (1.8)

So perhaps I’ve played devil’s advocate here by showing the numbers really don’t support Buster, and I hope I haven’t tainted your view of Buster’s performance this season (he’s still doing pretty good). Due to his success in 2010 and the tragedy of 2011, I think the fans will put him in the 2012 ASG one way or another, which is fine by me, because like many other Giants fans I have numerous Buster Posey things (does that sound creepy?) around my place that I look to every time he does well. So if you’re going to #VoteBuster, go for it, just if you do it, don’t say right now you’re doing it because he has better numbers than everyone else, since frankly that would be a pile of poop.

As an educator, your dream is to watch the kids you’ve led to reach personal, and set milestones. I was at a graduation yesterday for a few hours on a night that happened to coincide with a personal milestone for many members of the San Francisco Giants organization, and because of that, was unable to watch the game until today from beginning to end.

You know the story: Matt Cain looked good early — as if he was floating on water, you could say, continued to dominate the second time through the order, and with the help of his defense swimmingly advanced and chomped down on the Astros to complete the 22nd perfect game in MLB history. You’ve heard Matt Cain’s “Game Score” was 101. Did you know J.A. Happ’s was only 10? J.A. Happ’s Game Score was not even 10% as good as Matt Cain’s. Incredible. You know about the 14 strikeouts, with an even distribution of 7 looking and 7 swinging. You know Matt Cain didn’t shake off one pitch by Buster Posey.

Remember this? This shot off the bat could have made yesterday just another game:

That ball hit by Jordan Schafer ruled foul kept the game perfect. This, of what I consider to be one of the four major plays of the game, is the one most overlooked, but astute fans remember this and wipe their brow remembering what almost was. For the record, I thought this ball was fair, but I’m not putting any asterisks by anything.

Defensive changes were made in the 7th. Brandon Crawford to Short, Joaquin Arias to 3rd. I don’t know about you, but I was scared anything hit to them would spell the end for Cain, much like Juan Uribe did for Jonathan Sanchez in 2009. They did not disappoint. When Dave Flemming said “broken bat” in the 8th, I panicked. When I heard the ball was going to Brandon Crawford, I hoped nothing kooky would happen, and when what would be the final out when to Joaquin, and he gathered himself as he sidestepped to his right, my fiancee and I let out a cry of desperation for Arias to make the throw, and for the runner to not make it. We were not disappointed, and neither were fans of the national pastime.

A “wonderful” night, as Coach Harbaugh said. Matt Cain’s pitching was wonderful, and let me show you how it was wonderful:

This is a pitch speed graph showing you the speed and the numbered pitch at which Matt Cain threw it. Notice the consistency in the 90’s, and that it doesn’t regress, suggesting he tired. If anything, it got a little bit better as the game went on. You can even see he reached back for what would be the final pitch of the game. And now, a pitch plot:

The two-seamer (“FT”) was a beautiful strikeout pitch, but you can see here the Astros had pitches to hit all night (look at the two hanging curveballs (“CU”)). It is not Matt Cain’s fault that the Astros couldn’t be better than him because Matt Cain is better than you. That’s just the way it is. Here is a shot of Gregor Blanco, who made my favorite play of the night:

Matt Cain, your thoughts?

Perfect.

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