There are whispers in San Francisco. From the fog banked hills to the sun drenched downtown streets—there are whispers. Barely audible mutterings, a once very familiar phrase coming back.
As you get closer to China Basin and AT&T Park, the whispers get a little louder, and the words begin to form in your ears...playoffs...
Around the league you will not hear these whispers. And for good reason—it's a little early to begin talking about the 2009 Giants reaching the postseason.
That being said, San Francisco's "little team that couldn't" is putting together the first winning season since 2004. They were projected to lose 100 games this year.
The Giant's offensive woes are still apparent, ranked 27 out of 30 teams in runs scored. The pitching however, has been as advertised.
Starting pitcher, No. 18 Matt Cain has a lot do with the Giant's success this year. The 25-year-old right-hander from Dothan, Alabama is having the break out year we all have been waiting for.
Before there was Lincecum, there was Cain.
Before he even hit the Majors, scouts and minor league coaches were singing his praise. Cain can be considered the first in the line of marquee pitchers rolling out of the Giant's revamped, pitching heavy farm system.
In 2005, we only saw a glimpse of what the young right-hander had to offer. Cain's tools looked very promising and we looked forward to seeing more of him in 2006.
Unfortunately, the Giants had already begun their fall from grace. The offense clearly struggled. Cain, in his first complete season as a starter, won 13 and lost 12. His 4.15 ERA in 2006 would be his highest yet.
The next season, with Cain having pitched good enough to be in the top 10 among NL starters with a 3.65 ERA, he only notched seven wins.
The run support was abysmal. Laughable even.
It was hard to watch, and probably even harder for Cain to stomach, but the kid kept his poise. Cain never said a harsh word to the press about his teammates' inability to score runs. He never threw anyone under the cable car.
2008 proved even more miserable. Although Cain had a slightly better record (8-14), his control wavered at times. Cain just didn't have the Cain-type stuff, and we all wondered if the team's direction was dragging the kid down.
2008 was Lincecum's time. The "Freak" was not to be denied. A rare and very welcome National League Cy Young Award stamped Tim Lincecum's name as the Ace of the rotation in San Francisco.
Today, Cain is enjoying his well deserved success. His 9-1 win record tops the National League. His three complete games is the most in the NL.
Cain's country-hardball style is finally getting the league's attention.
His 2.28 ERA is second only to Arizona's Dan Haren. Already there are talks of back-to-back Cy Young's coming to San Francisco. And as it might be too early to pencil in the Giants into the playoffs, it is also too early to begin voting in Cy Young nominees.
In the meantime, let's hope the Giants and Matt Cain can keep putting wins together and keep this enjoyable season rolling in a positive direction.
Matt Cain takes on the Brewers in Milwaukee tonight. He goes up against Yovani Gallardo (7-4) and looks to get win No. 10 on a very important road trip for the G's.
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