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Matt Cain announces his retirement

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Giants pitcher Matt Cain announced his retirement this afternoon. He’ll make one last start for the Giants, this Saturday against the Padres, but then he’ll call it a career.

Cain, 32, was already expected to separate from the Giants after this season given that his contract is up, but he has decided not to try to latch on elsewhere. It’s probably the right decision, as Cain is now but a shadow of what he once was, having posted a 5.66 ERA and the lowest strikeout rate and highest WHIP of his career in 2017. That, however, will soon be forgotten as his many wonderful years are remembered when he is given his sendoff this Saturday.

Cain pitched thirteen seasons, all with the Giants. At his peak he was one of the best in all of baseball. Between 2007 and 2012 he went 70-65 with a 3.18 ERA (126 ERA+) and a K/BB ratio of 1,069/418 in 1,299.2 innings. He should’ve won a lot more games than he did, but he was frequently plagues with low run support during his prime.

Cain won three World Series rings with the Giants and posted a 2.10 ERA in eight postseason starts. He made three All-Star teams and had two top-10 finishes in the Cy Young voting (2011, 2012). On June 13, 2012 Cain threw the 22nd perfect game in baseball history, striking out 14 Houston Astros batters in the process, tying Sandy Koufax’s record for the most Ks in a perfecto.

Cain, who averaged 213 innings pitched a season between 2006 and 2012, began to experience injury problems in 2013. Some of the injuries were freak injuries — he was hit by a comebacker, sending him to the DL in early 2013 — others chronic. He’d need elbow surgery and ankle surgery in 2014. His numbers and his durability began to decline after 2013. This is the first season he’s pitched over 100 innings in the past four seasons.

But no matter how his career has ended, he was a critical part of the Giants mid-2000s rebuild and the mini-dynasty that won three World Series between 2010 and 2014. For that, he will always be a big part of Giants history. The fans will cheer him wildly and loudly at AT&T Park on Saturday.

Mookie Betts, Javier Baez leading off the All-Star lineups

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I can’t imagine what it’s like to fill out the lineup card for an All-Star team. Most of the guys are 1-4 hitters on their own teams, but you gotta slot most of them someplace lower. Egos are probably a consideration. Strategic stuff. “Which top of the order or middle of the lineup hitter is batting eighth?” is both a difficult and thankless question.

Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch have to do it anyway, and today they released the All-Star lineups. Seeing Bryce Harper batting sixth and Manny Machado batting seventh is just not part of the usual baseball experience:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Jose Altuve, 2B
3. Mike Trout, CF
4. J.D. Martinez, DH
5. Jose Ramirez, 3B
6. Aaron Judge, LF
7. Manny Machado, SS
8. Jose Abreu, 1B
9. Salvador Perez, C

NATIONAL LEAGUE

1. Javier Baez, 2B
2. Nolan Arenado, 3B
3. Paul Goldschmidt, DH
4. Freddie Freeman, 1B
5. Matt Kemp, LF
6. Bryce Harper, CF
7. Nick Markakis, RF
8. Brandon Crawford, SS
9. Willson Contreras, C

Not that this is gonna hold for long what with all of the substitutions.