Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cain Quiets Phillies

Charlie Manuel mentioned it in his postgame interview, and he was pretty much dead on. Cain threw fewer fastballs than he typically does and had sharp command (especially when absolutely necessary) despite walking three and hitting two batters. Cain threw just 51% fastballs according to the Brooks Baseball PitchFX tool, whereas he averaged 64% throughout the season. Cain replaced that -13% and threw more changeups which he threw 26% of the time (up from the season average of about 14%). Cain was spotting his fastball on both sides of the plate as well as moving it up down in the zone. Furthermore, he was able to throw quite a few changeups down in the zone and fading away from lefty handed batters like Chase Utley, whom he coaxed into a fly out and two ground outs. The result: seven shutout innings and zero runs with five punchouts. When Cain did miss, he missed out of the zone and rarely if ever out over the plate.
They said his nickname in high school was Big Daddy, but it was actually Big Sugar. We can chalk that up to one of the many, many mistakes in FOX’s broadcast, but I don’t have the time to list them all. I will say, though, that hearing Joe Buck ridicule the Phillies’ teenage batboy because he was wearing a titanium necklace was truly painful.

Cain now has thrown 14 innings, given up 9 hits and 5 walks and stuck out 11. Cain is not the sexy starter that Tim Lincecum is. He only strikes out about 7 batters per 9 innings but he’s been as steady as they come. Cain never had a sub par month in 2010 as his highest monthly ERA was 3.79. In fact, he’s only had a month over 4 once in the past two seasons, the only one coming in September and October of 2009 when he posted a 4.98, which is certainly good enough to win a few games if you’re pitching for a team that scores runs – see the Yankees.

Offensively, the Giants did a decent job at getting Cole Hamels to throw some pitches. They weren’t the Yankees, but they also weren’t the Giants of 2009 who seemed to average seeing less than ten pitches per inning. Burrell drew a huge walk in front of the red hot Cody Ross, who once again got the scoring started with a clutch two out single down the left field line. Cody had been punishing fastballs down and in but this time beat a pretty good pitch that was a fastball below the strike zone. Then Huff followed that up with his second RBI –my favorite stat – of the postseason with a single that glanced off of Utley’s glove into the three-four hole. Utley also let one go off his chest for an “RBI single” off the bat of Freddy Sanchez. It should have been an error and one can only hope he turns into Chase Conrad. The odds of that are about as good as me suddenly enjoying the FOX broadcast personalities.

The Giants won the game 3-0 and by more than one run for the first time this postseason. Charlie Manuel has already said Blanton will make the start tomorrow versus Madison Bumgarner, but you have to wonder if he has any tricks up his sleeve. Manuel has to at least consider going with Roy Halladay on three days rest for tomorrows 4:30 start.

Stats provided by Fangraphs

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