Things were looking interesting for the Rockies in the NL West entering the weekend. A series sweep over the Giants would move them to only half a game behind with seven to play and a good chance to move into the playoffs in the last two weeks of the season. But the Rockies couldn’t handle Tim Lincecum in game 1. Despite their game 2 victory, a loss in the third game of the series would knock them 4.5 games behind San Francisco and at least 3.5 behind Atlanta for the Wild Card. Thanks to a brilliant performance from Matt Cain, Colorado’s season is now effectively over.
Cain had some help, particularly from home runs by Freddy Sanchez and Cody Ross, but Cain’s fantastic performance stands tallest for the Giants. Over a complete game, Cain only allowed two runs – a Melvin Mora pinch hit home run in the 8th inning. The Rockies could only muster two more hits and a walk off Cain while striking out eight times.
Not only was Cain brilliant, but he was brilliant in the context of a close game. He took the 2-0 lead staked to him by the Sanchez home run and ran with it. The Rockies were within three until the 7th inning, and then after the Mora home run, Cain had to shut the door on a potent Rockies offense in the 8th and 9th. Overall, Cain earned a whopping +.469 win probability added in the start – as a total of +.500 is required for the team to win the game, you can almost say that Cain won the game by himself.
The loss doesn’t quite eliminate the Rockies, but with six games to go for San Francisco and seven for each of San Diego and Colorado, the Rockies are in dire straits. Any combination of three Colorado losses or San Francisco wins now ends the Rockies NL West hopes, and any combination of four San Diego wins or Rockies losses would end any Wild Card hopes. Not only did Matt Cain utterly dominate and shut down the Colorado Rockies offense on Sunday afternoon, but he also buried their season. The Giants can now turn their attention for the rest of the season on what should be a stupendous race against the Padres and Braves for the final two NL playoff spots – all three teams are within a game of each other, and surely all three are glad to have the Rockies securely in their rear-view mirrors.
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