Monday, September 27, 2010

Cain Eases the Pain of 49ers' and Raiders' Debacles

Thank God the San Francisco Giants played an afternoon game on Sunday. The pain Bay Area fans were feeling by noon, and then again by 4pm was nullified, at least a little, by Matt Cain's crafty performance on the mound.

The earliest game on Sunday may have stung the worst, though. The 49ers were up against an unproven, yet 2-0, Chiefs team that seemed the perfect match for the 49ers on both sides of the ball. Except it turned out the 49ers were no match for the Chiefs, who showed that they were for real and that the 49ers are nowhere near where everyone thinks they should be, NFC West Champs. Not the way they're playing.

The 49ers were dominated in every aspect of the game on Sunday, less than a week removed from a spirited performance on Monday night. Many minds would think they could take that momentum of challenging the Super Bowl Champs into Sunday's game against the Chiefs. No chance, never had any. The Chiefs two-headed monster rushing duo were running at will against that laxidasical defensive line, and Matt Cassel, although not sharp, was able to piece the 49ers' secondary with ease. Disappointing.

As the 49ers were beat outright, the Raiders outright beat themselves. A well-played game the whole way, Janikowski's 2 missed kicks cost the Raiders what could have been a well-deserved win against the Cardinals. Even then, if Janikowski had chipped in the 3rd FG from 32 yards to win the game, all would have been forgotten. He had made 19 of 19 from 30-40 yards to that point. You can make that 19 of 20 now.

But as the Raiders and 49ers shot themselves in the foot time and time again, Matt Cain seemed to put his foot down for all the Bay Area and save them from one horrible Sunday afternoon in sports. Cain took a no-hit bid into the 8th inning and would ultimately lead the Giants to a 4-2 win in Colorado, and solo first place in the NL West yet again.

Cain pitched great, especially with the "juiced ball" conditions. He has no doubt been the Cy Young of the Giants season on a team that boasts past and possible future Cy Young Award winners. He has been consistent despite the starting rotation having its ups-and-downs. He should be regarded as their #1 pitcher.

The Giants were able to take a 1/2 game lead in the division and virtually knock out the Rockies from playoff contention at the same time on Sunday. The Giants/Padres playoff implications will no doubt come down to the last series of the year in San Francisco right where the Giants would prefer it. For that series, the Giants will have Zito, Cain, and Sanchez heading to the hill, with the Giants showing no signs of altering the rotation for the finale.

Meanwhile, the Giants will host the D-Backs Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. While the Padres host the Cubs in a 4-game series starting tonight.

A little advice, let the chips fall where they may for the 49ers and Raiders this week. With the 49ers in Atlanta and the Raiders playing the Texans, let's focus on the Giants on Sunday. For the sake of us going crazy. At this moment, they are the only true contenders in the Bay Area right now because they have shown us they are. The 49ers and Raiders have not.