After giving up five earned runs in six labored innings, Matt Cain took a loss on Monday night, which means he now has a 4.40 ERA, a 2-3 record and 46 strikeouts in just 57.1 innings (nine starts) since he threw his perfect game on June 13.
Is this cause for alarm? Manager Bruce Bochy says it's not, and that Cain is simply dealing with a midseason sort of funk, in addition to being a "human."
“These guys are human,” Bochy said, per Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury-News. “They’re not going to go out and give you eight innings and one run every time out. He had good stuff tonight.”
The saddest part of this quote is the realization that Matt Cain is not a cyborg sent to Earth in order to mow down batters. I was kind of holding out hope on that one. Bochy also maintained that there's nothing wrong with Cain's mechanics and that the ace is perfectly healthy.
“You look at him inning by inning, you watch if his mechanics are off,” Bochy said, per Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. “The last start [against the Mets at AT&T Park], he was out of sync and he’ll tell you that. But I thought tonight he was much better. He had good stuff tonight.”
Here's the thing about Cain's start too: if the umps make a different call on Rafael Furcal's at-bat in the sixth inning when he (maybe) checked up on a 3-2 pitch, the inning is over via a strikeout and Cain finishes the game with six innings pitched, three runs allowed and a quality start. Maybe the Giants score two more, win the game and no one talks about Cain's funk.
Instead, there were plenty of questions about Cain after the game and, according to all accounts, he wasn't happy about answering them. Baggarly notes that Cain's answers were "clipped" and sounded genuinely miffed about his recent performance.
It's hard to blame him, but it's also unnecessary to freak out too much. Cain hasn't pitches superbly in recent weeks, but it's not like he's turned into Barry Zito and/or pre-All-Star-Break Tim Lincecum here.
Take a breath, let Cain regroup and try not to panic about his performance. For now.