SAN FRANCISCO Matt Cain is too superstitious to tip hiscap, even to a thunderous ovation. He doesnt break focus for a single pitch.He is not what youd call a showman.
So it was a stunning bit of theater on Saturday when Cainbloused out his 1912 throwback uniform, raised his arms over his head, wound uplike a windmill and delivered a first pitch worthy of Dizzy Dean on Friday.
The first one? said Cain, grinning. I was trying to go alittle throwback there. I was thinking about it yesterday. Jake Peavy alwaysdid it in San Diego. So youre thinking, 'Well, I dont know.' But well, itsonly one pitch.
You might as well try to be in character a little bit. Soit was fun.
He threw a ball. Cain didnt throw many more.
Cain didnt stay in character by perishing of consumption ordoing anything too extreme. Hes not a method actor, even if the Giants offensehas provided dead-ball era run support for him over his career.
Call him conditioned to his time and place. Cain made threesingles, a bases-loaded walk and a ground out work for everyone while pitchingthe Giants to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs. For the first time allseason, the Giants are five games over .500.
And for the first time since he was a 22-year-old young buckwith a 17-17 record in 2007, Cain is at .500 for his career. Hes 75-75 afterstarting this season 6-2.
I guess it kind of stinks that its getting back to .500,but thats how it goes, said Cain, who claimed he wasnt even aware untilafter the game. I could care less what my record is, as long as we win.Getting back to .500 for my career, I dont worry about it.
Cain is a throwback in every sense. Perhaps thats why hewas in his white and navy uniform, pulling on those thick turn back thecentury socks, more than 90 minutes before the first pitch.
Yeah, it was funny, he said. Everybody was in uniform anhour, an hour and a half before the game to get comfortable. Its entertaining,definitely. Were a bunch of little kids in here.
I loved it. It was actually one of the most comfortablethrowback jerseys Ive ever worn. It wasnt heavy or uncomfortable.
Sergio Romo especially loved the sight of big MadisonBumgarner in that snow white uniform.
We called him Bum Ruth, the great Bum-bino, Romo said. Helooked so big in that uniform. We were having fun with it. He just fit themold.
And Romo, who always catches the ceremonial first pitch (anddont you love that about him?), got to receive the best fastball a 99-year-oldfan could muster. She was born in 1912.
She was smiling, laughing, Romo said. It was awesome.
Romo and Javier Lopez made sure the birds and bugs in thestands could head out to the cobblestones and trolleys in a good mood. It waspreordained that Cain would face just the first batter in the ninth, and hewalked Starlin Castro. But Lopez threw two pitches to record two outs, thanksto some deft fielding by third baseman Joaquin Arias as he started a doubleplay. And Romo threw three sliders to retire Alfonso Soriano.
It was the fourth career save for Romo. With SantiagoCasilla (bruised knee) out for the day and Brian Wilson (elbow surgery) out forthe season, Romo was effectively the man behind the man behind the man.
Yeah, I got an out in the ninth, Romo said. Its the sameas an out in the seventh or eighth. I guess its peace of mind for the staffand the front office that they put a pretty good pitching staff together.
Cain might have said it best: We all (in the rotation) feelwere No. 1-2 guys and all the guys in the bullpen feel theyre eighth-inning,ninth-inning guys.
That leaves the offense, and lets revisit that wholedead-ball thing. Incredibly, the club has hit just one home run in its lastSEVENTEEN home games (and thank Gregor Blanco for that surprising littleblast). Yet they are 10-7 over that span.
We scratched and clawed -- I guess a little like the 1912team, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. We didnt show much power but we founda way to get it done.
The first of Cains 215 career starts was a 2-1 game a lossto the Colorado Rockies. There have been 17 of them in his career. The Giantsare 9-8 and Cain has a 7-5 record in those starts.
Hes been so consistent and we needed it today, becausetheir guy was throwing the ball so well, Bochy said. Matty, hes amazing. Hejust keeps going and keeps competing so well.
Thats a quality that works in any uniform, in any era.
The first pitch, going over his head? That was awesome,said Romo, who apparently spent much of the game discussing the temporalissues.
What about the black and white Jumbotron? You cant tell methey had that back in the day. It makes you think what would they do, haveguys running around with huge posters?"