After the last soul-crushing defeat, the Giants needed this game. Matt Cain chipped in 7 innings of 2 run baseball and Travis Ishikawa belted a 3-run HR in the 8th inning to break a 2-2 tie. Something that I’ve noticed about Cain this year is that his K/9 has dropped by almost 1 full strikeout per 9 innings. Cain owns a career K/9 of 7.47 with a high of 8.45 in 2006. This year, Cain has posted a K/9 of 6.75 — a career low in a full season play. While the strikeouts have declined, he’s walking less than ever before. Cain’s BB/9 of 3.10 walks this year is a career best. In previous seasons, Cain’s BB/9 ranged from 3.5-4 walks. It’s not a good thing that he’s striking out less hitters, but the reduction in walks have allowed him to post a FIP that’s essentially in line with his career.
Let’s take a look at a couple of Matt Cain PFX plots from the game.
The D-Backs’ lineup was primarily composed of left-handed batters and switch-hitters. Like most pitchers in today’ game, Cain’s plan was to pitch the opposition away. Most of his fastballs to lefty hitters ended up on the outer half of the plate and outside. The changeup was mostly thrown down and away from lefties. A good location for the pitch because of the natural fading action to LHB’s. The few right-handed batters that Cain faced got either the fastball or slider. Again, it makes sense because the slider will break away from RHB’s. The majority of RHB at-bats against Cain were from Dan Haren and Ryan Roberts. Not a single RHB saw a curveball or changeup from Cain.
This is the traditional break plot — horizontal vs. vertical. Cain tossed 102 total pitches in the game. He threw 66 fastballs, 15 changeups, 12 curveballs, and 9 sliders.
The big hit of the night came with Travis Ishikawa deposited a 0-1 changeup from Jon Raunch into the RF seats to give the Giants the lead. In reality, there isn’t much of a difference between Ishikawa and Garko when it comes to hitting against RHP. They both shake out as .750 OPS hitters against RHP. But the scales are tilted with Ishikawa playing the field. He’s been a much, much better defender than Garko in his career. The Giants should really only start Garko when they are playing LHP or when Ishikawa needs a day off. Otherwise, I’m not sure Garko is an upgrade against RHP. I’m still not a fan of trading a top-10 propsect for a poor defensive platoon first baseman. It doesn’t seem like a great use of prospect resources.
Maybe the best thing about Ishikawa’s 3-run homer was that it was preceded by 2 walks. The Giants, and their 291 total walks, rank last in the majors for team walks. They are the only team in baseball under the 300 walk mark this late in the season. It was nice to see Fred Lewis (not as surprising) and Nate Schierholtz (more surprising) walk before the big hit.
Roster Update: Previous to the game last night, it was announced that the Giants have put Freddy Sanchez on the DL (finally) and called up IF Ryan Rohlinger from AAA Fresno. Rohlinger is a product of the 2006 draft and has put up a .360 wOBA this season for the Grizzlies. His batting line of: .282/.352/.470 looks nice at a glance, but a .822 OPS in the PCL isn’t something I would get excited about. Some of his Total Zone scores look pretty nice. Rohlinger profiles as a utility infielder with good defense.