Results tagged ‘ Matt Cain ’
Last week was a great week all around – a sweep to start the second half of the season and before that a trip back home for the All-Star break.
Haylee and I spent the first day back in Texas just hanging out with our parents. Then on Tuesday there was a little bitty get-together at the Barbecue House, which I told you is one of my favorite restaurants in Nacogdoches. It was just my grandma, my mom’s sisters and my coach from Little League. Sure enough, Maw-Maw had a stack of cards for me to sign as soon as I walked in.
Then I watched the All-Star game with some buddies, cheering for our guys like any other fan. They definitely represented the Giants very well. Matt Cain faced a brutal line-up of the best hitters in the American League, and he just shut them down. And Melky getting the MVP – I was so happy for him because he works sooo hard. He’s definitely somebody I look up to. And Pablo getting the triple and Posey scoring a run. It was awesome all around.
Of course when you’re around your friends and family, they want to know what guys are like personally off the field. It’s an easy answer for me because every guy on the team is a good guy.
So after writing about how I always wear my baseball pants old-school, I showed up for a game with long pants that covered my socks. “Kristen’’ and “Claire’’ called me on it in the comments section. Here’s the story. I have two pairs of old-school pants that come down to just below my knees. One of them has had a broken zipper for a while. So I had been wearing the same pair of pants every game. Then the zipper broke on that one. So I had to go grab a pair of Bumgarner’s pants and throw those on. Murph, the clubhouse manager, got the zippers fixed and had my pants back in time for the next game.
Obviously, I should get things fixed more promptly. Like my shaver. I told you last time that I hadn’t shaved in a week because my shaver broke. I was going to get a new one during our last road trip back east. I didn’t. So I went another week. I had a back-up razor but the batteries were dead. Finally I got batteries and shaved the night before the All-Star break. Back home in Texas, I was able to go out and find the shaver I’ve always had, the Peanut.
Another question from the comments: My pregame routine. After we take BP, we’re in the clubhouse for about an hour and a half. So right before the game, I’ll go in the batting cage behind the dugout and hit a few balls to get loose. Then on the field I’ll stretch my legs and upper body. Then I throw with Crawford. Most of us throw with the same guys every game. (If one or the other of us isn’t in the lineup, the other one will find somebody else to throw with.) Then I’ll do a couple sprints and I’m ready for the game.
Thanks, Dave Edlund, for telling me you fished my first home run of 2012 out of McCovey Cove. (And to your friend Greg for grabbing the next one.) The one I’d really like back is the first Splash Hit of my career (from last season). That would be pretty cool. If the person who has that ball wants to negotiate an exchange, I’m open.
Thanks, as always, for reading and for leaving your comments and questions. Wish us luck in Atlanta and Philly
Playing baseball can be a mysterious thing. I mean, you know how to swing the bat, how to field the ball, how to throw. But there are times – and often you can’t pinpoint the exact reason – everything is working or almost nothing is working.
Right now for me at the plate, a lot of things are working. To be honest, I’m the most comfortable I’ve been since I’ve been in the big leagues. I’ve hit safely in last 11 games and have four home runs and 12 RBIs in that span.
The difference is that I’m not thinking about anything at the plate except seeing the ball. I’m not thinking about my mechanics. I’m not guessing at pitches. I’m seeing the pitch where it actually is.
It’s what baseball people call simplifying the game. It’s kind of counter-intuitive because you have to work really hard in order to get yourself in the frame of mind to keep it simple. And I’ve worked really hard. Now it’s paying off: I can clear my head of everything except seeing the ball.
And because I’m not swinging at pitches outside the zone, I’m walking more, too.
There is no better feeling in baseball than being able to come through for your team. Last night, the two-run homer in the sixth put us ahead for good in the win against the A’s. But the double on Friday night to tie the game in the ninth is the kind of hit that you always hope for.
Timmy had fought back from a rough first inning and didn’t give up a hit through the next five. And the bullpen gave up nothing. So you really want to do something to make all that work pay off. And we’d had a tough two series in Anaheim and Seattle, so we really needed to get something going.
I remembered that the last time I faced A’s closer Ryan Cook he threw me a couple of sliders. So I knew there was a good chance, with two strikes, I’d get a backdoor slider, and I did. I just tried to get the bat on it and put it in play. It got past the leftfielder and both runners scored. When you just get the bat on the ball, good things can happen.
As for the play at first base in that bad first inning on Friday, it was one of those unfortunate things. As a fielder, you always go through in your mind what you’ll do if the ball’s hit to you. With bases loaded and no outs, I knew if I got a ball to my left, to my backhand, I’d have no chance at a double play, so I’d throw home to get the force. If the ball was hit straight at me or to my right, I’d go to second for the double play.
It was hit to my left, so I purposely stepped over the bag to get the force-out at home. But Sanchy thought I stepped on the bag. So he went for the tag at home and wasn’t able to get the runner. Throwing home for the force-out to save the run was the right play. It was just one of those unfortunate things that Sanchy couldn’t see if I had stepped on the bag or not.
I’ve gotten a little ribbing about my orange shoelaces. I guess they’re kind of bright. They were already on the shoes when they arrived from Under Armour. I didn’t put them on the shoes myself. But I’m going to keep them. Good things seem to happen when I’m wearing them.
The truth is I don’t really pay much attention to what I’m wearing or how I look. I wear my baseball pants kind of old school, just below the knee, but it’s not a real conscious choice. I’ve just been wearing them that way since I was eight years old and never changed.
On our day off on Thursday, I dragged Haylee to the movie theater to see “That’s My Boy’’ with Adam Sandler. It’s not a movie that’s going to wow the critics, but I love Adam Sandler and I laughed through the whole thing. Even Haylee laughed. She hates going to the movies. She’d rather just watch a movie at home. But I love it. When she doesn’t want to go, I’ll just go by myself.
Thanks to all of you who left such nice comments here after the last post about Matt Cain’s perfect game. Through all the ups and downs of the last two seasons, you’ve always been there. The incredible support I’ve gotten here in San Francisco has really helped me deal with the doubts that inevitably creep into your mind when things aren’t going well. For any player, knowing that the fans are behind you gives you a little bit more juice. I’ve read every comment and appreciate each one. I wish I could write back to everyone but there’s just not enough time in the day. But I want you to know how amazing it is to take all your good thoughts onto the field with me.
Like everybody else, I couldn’t go to sleep last night. I think I watched the replay of the final out fifteen times. Then I kept replaying the game in my head.
And what I was thinking when I woke up this morning was just how unbelievable it was to be a part of history.
I’ve been a baseball fan my whole life. And then to be on the field when a guy pitches a perfect game, it’s incredible. It wasn’t just about being IN the game but I found myself watching the game almost like a fan. Seeing Blanco make that play. That’s going to go down as one of the best plays in the history of the game. And I’m there watching it from a few yards away.
In the dugout, we all went about our normal routines. We talked about our at-bats, about the plays on the field. We just didn’t do it around Matt.
Then I did something that I will get grief about for the rest of my career, I’m sure.
It was the seventh or eighth inning, and Matt was up at bat. I was wandering around the dugout, watching the game. Matt was batting. I sat down on the bench. Usually pitchers will put a towel or their jacket on the spot. Maybe something was there and I just didn’t see it.
But suddenly Matt is standing there staring at me. I figured I was doing something wrong. I looked down and realized I was sitting in his spot. Vogelsong was giving me a dirty look, so I got out of there as fast as I could. I think Vogey was ready to kill me. I still can’t believe I did that.
As the game went on, I was as nervous as I’ve ever been on a baseball field. As Matt pitched to the last batter, I was thinking, “Don’t hit it to me. Just strike him out.’’
You’re telling yourself not to freak out: “If it’s hit to someone else and the throw’s in the dirt, don’t panic. Just do what you normally do. Let the game come to you.’’
Then when I caught Arias’s throw to end the game, I put the ball in my pocket for safekeeping – and to make sure it didn’t get knocked to the ground and somebody rolled an ankle on it. I was the second guy to reach Matt after Buster. In the pile, I was kind of squished up against him, so I kind of put my head down on his chest; I didn’t want to get hit in the face. My shoulder was jabbing into Crawford’s nose. It can get pretty rough. You really have to be careful. But in the moment you’re not thinking about anything but how happy you are for Matty.
In the clubhouse, when I was about to give Matt the ball, I thought maybe I could get something out of this. I asked him for a Corvette. It’s probably not going to happen.
Seriously, though, handing him the ball was one of the coolest things. You see stuff like that on TV and you wonder how you’d feel doing that for a teammate. Honestly, it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had playing the game. I was just so happy for him. He deserves this so much. He goes out every game with good stuff and you knew it was just a matter of time before something really special was going to happen. He’s a bulldog. He fights every day.
When I look at someone like Matt and how professional he is, how much he prepares day in and day out, I feel really inspired. You want to live up to the standard he sets. You realize what it takes to be great in this game. It’s not all about talent. It’s all the other stuff. Dedication. Courage. Focus.
I thought later about passing by Matt’s locker before the game. I thought he was asleep. He looked like he had just woken up from a nap. But I’m sure he was getting in the zone. Obviously it worked.
And I still can’t believe I was a part of it.
We’re making our way to New York, but I wanted to write a short post about last night’s amazing game.
In the dugout, we were watching the pitching duel like any fan in the stands. Matt Cain and Cliff Lee were like surgeons out there — precise and efficient and super confident. You knew neither was giving an inch. A win would have to be earned the hard way — one base at a time.
But I knew I had to keep ready (more on that in my next post). Boch could call on me at any time.
That time came in the 11th.
Cliff Lee was, thankfully, finally out of the game after ten innings. I was facing Armando Bastardo. All I thought about was putting the ball in play. Just keep it simple. Forget everything that’s happened before. I was looking for a fastball, but he gave me a slider and fortunately I was able to stay with it just enough to put it in play for single up the middle.
When I reached second on an error and Melky came to the plate, I was thinking: Whatever happens, be aggressive. Get home however you can.
As soon as I saw the ball come off the bat, I took off. I was probably overly aggressive right there but I trusted my instincts.
When I’m rounding third, I take a look at the fielder to see if I’m going to have to slide. I saw the ball in the air and I’m thinking – get to the plate as fast as you can and get down.
When I crossed that plate – it was one of the greatest feelings. You’re happy for the win but you’re really happy for Matt. He had fought so hard out there that you just wanted to do it for him. And I couldn’t be happier for Melky, who’s been winning games for us all season. He had a great at-bat and he came through for us again.
And I have to tell you there’s nothing better than a dog pile. It does something for you as a player and as a team. Pulls you closer together maybe. I don’t know for sure. But there’s a carryover. I can feel it today. Everyone’s still smiling.
And in the aftermath, you can really start to appreciate what we saw last night. It’s hard to imagine any of us will ever see a better pitching duel. It’s a game that you know you’ll be telling your grandchildren about – the way people talk about Koufax and Marichal.
It’s a great way to head into four games against the Mets.
Thanks for reading.