Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Marcum) at Giants (Cain)

If we're all going to stay up this late we might as well watch a win, right?

The Giants are sending Matt Cain (2.99 ERA, 2.86 FIP), who is currently ninth in the NL with 3.3 fWAR...good for third on the Giants behind Tim Lincecum (3.5) and Sunday starter Madison Bumgarner (3.7). By FIP and xFIP (3.47), he's having the best season of his seven year major league career. He last pitched against the Padres on Sunday, allowing three runs (only one earned) on three hits over six innings, walking two and striking out nine.

A large part of Cain's 2011 success is probably attributable to the fact that he's getting more ground balls: 40.3% of his plate appearances end with the ball on the ground this season, compared to 36.8% for his career. He's also throwing his low-90's fastball a little less (63.2 to 57%) and his changeup a little more (13.8 to 17.9%). The changeup has been his best pitch this season and for his career.

The Brewers hung a loss on Cain on May 29, connecting for five runs on eleven hits over six innings. Seven Brewers have faced him ten times or more:

Player PA AVG OBP SLG OPS
Mark Kotsay 20 .222 .300 .278 .578
Craig Counsell 19 .294 .368 .412 .780
Prince Fielder 19 .267 .368 .400 .768
Ryan Braun 16 .400 .438 .600 1.038
Nyjer Morgan 13 .333 .385 .333 .718
Corey Hart 12 .100 .250 .200 .450
Rickie Weeks 11 .400 .455 .500 .955

Meanwhile, the Brewers send Shaun Marcum (3.39 ERA, 3.65 FIP), coming off his fourth outing of five innings or less in his last six starts. Marcum left his last start early against the Rockies on Sunday complaining of neck soreness, but visited a chiropractor and says he's good to go. He needed 86 pitches to complete five innings in the start, allowing two runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts.

When Marcum is on his control is one of his strongest assets...and he hasn't been on lately. Since his start against the Mets on June 7 he's walked 19 batters in 39 innings (about 4.4 per nine innings), and posted a 4.62 ERA. He had a 2.78 ERA and was walking 2 batters per nine before that. In a potentially related note, the Brewers have won just twice in his last ten starts.

One of those losses came against the Giants on May 27, when Marcum allowed five runs on six hits and two walks over six innings, striking out five. Shortstop Brandon Crawford hit a grand slam against him in that game. Aubrey Huff is the only current Giant who's seen Marcum ten times or more: He's a career .429/.556/.857 hitter against him in 18 plate appearances.

Here's tonight's lineup:

Corey Hart RF
Nyjer Morgan CF
Mark Kotsay LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Casey McGehee 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Shaun Marcum P

And in the bullpen:

LaTroy Hawkins pitched one inning (14 pitches) last night.
John Axford
pitched 1 inning (13 pitches) Wednesday.
Takashi Saito pitched 1 inning (18 pitches) Wednesday.
Francisco Rodriguez pitched 1 inning (21 pitches) Wednesday.
Marco Estrada and Kameron Loe haven't pitched since Tuesday.
Tim Dillard has had time to listen to the new TMBG album several times by now.

While most of the nation complains about record high temperatures and whatnot, it actually sounds like it might be a little bit cool in San Francisco tonight. The Weather Channel is predicting a game time temperature of 59 degrees, dropping down into the mid 50's as the night goes along. After mowing the lawn in the heat today, I can't even picture that.

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