Matt Cain is currently in the midst of a six-start winning streak.
He’s also set to one-up the best start of his career.
His San Francisco Giants and their 35-27 record couldn’t be any happier.
After a dominant 10-strikeout, two-earned-run performance against the Brewers in early May that yielded him a typical no-decision, Cain has reeled off six consecutive wins. He has punched out 42 batters and walked just nine in that span.
The last and only time Giants fans witnessed such a streak from their reliable starter was in 2009. During that particular streak between May 17 and June 14 (coincidence much?), Cain also went 6-0, striking out 34 against 14 walks.
His win-loss mark stood at 9-1 with a slightly better 2.39 ERA. He posted fewer strikeouts (68) and more walks (34) at that point in the season as well.
So by earning a win today by the same margins as have occurred during this streak, Cain will sport a record of 8-2 with 89 K and 17 BB. He’ll have pitched more innings (92.2 to 86.2) in addition to the increased strikeout total and fewer walks.
The ERAs are a wash at 2.39 (2009) versus 2.41 (2012). Only the record of the 2009 Matt Cain is superior at 9-1 to the potential 8-2 of this year, albeit by a single game.
Does all of this statistical comparison have any far-reaching significance?
Perhaps yes, perhaps no.
For me, however, it is wholly significant if the Giants are forced to absorb the struggles of Tim Lincecum and a continually low-scoring offense for the majority of the year.
They can capture the NL West behind Cain’s career-best start to a season, coupled with Madison Bumgarner’s (8-4, 3.08 ERA, 74:18 K:BB), Ryan Vogelsong’s (5-2, 2.26 ERA, 10 QS) and even Barry Zito’s (5-3, 3.24 ERA, 7 QS).
The Giants are currently just four-and-a-half games behind the Dodgers. If they capitalize on their favorable schedule this month and win the head-to-head matchups against L.A., they’ll find themselves sitting atop the division come July 1.
It will be no easy task, but certainly a doable one.
The division is up for grabs, at least for the time being. It just remains to be seen if the Giants’ pitching staff is hungry enough (minus Timmy and without consistent run support) to take it.
Well, at least we know Matt is.