If you tuned in to tonight’s Giants game to see the conclusion of Matt Cain’s pitching cliffhanger, you’ll have to stay tuned. When we last left off, Cain was due to face former-Giants prospect Zack Wheeler, and he couldn’t manage to get out of the first inning. He allowed two hits, three walks and three earned runs before Bruce Bochy pulled him with just two outs recorded.
Cain went much further into his start tonight — five innings of two run ball — and, don’t get me wrong, pitched much better. Still, while he did well enough to earn a 4-3 win, his performance didn’t instill much confidence that “the Cain of old” is back.
He walked four batters, while his lack of command was the culprit for a high pitch count that spelled an early end to his outing. He exceeded 100 pitches in just the sixth inning, and after giving up back-to-back singles to Aaron Hill and Miguel Montero, the bullpen was called on yet again.
In his defense, Bochy trotted out a rough lineup, both in terms of plate prowess and defensive abilities. The fifth was especially taxing in that regard: Cain induced a double play grounder from Eric Chavez that Marco Scutaro handled well, but Tony Abreu (in for Brandon Crawford because he suffered a foot injury after being trampled by Heath Bell Friday night) gunned the throw to first past Buster Posey (in for Brandon Belt because LOL Belt). This extended the fifth inning by three more high-pressure plate appearances for Cain.
The offense was not overwhelming, but just impressive enough to create some separation. The Giants struck first in the opening frame when Pablo Sandoval knocked in Scutaro with a double. Then, in the fourth, they loaded the bases for Jeff Francoeur, who (wait for it, WAIT FOR IT) walked to force in Posey. They didn’t score anymore runs that inning (we’ll talk about that in a second), but Posey struck again in the bottom of the fifth with this ridiculous shot to dead centerfield:
It turned out to be just enough for the Giants, who needed seven different relievers to hold back Arizona. George Kontos struggled with the runners he inherited from Cain, and then it was Jeremy Affeldt who recorded an out before having to leave with an apparent groin injury. The professional lip-readers of the interweb seemed to believe Affeldt said “I felt it pop,” which cannot mean good things for the oft-injured left hander.
Bochy said after the game the injury was a “left groin strain,” and a possible DL situation. The answer will likely come tomorrow.
It took a battery of Jose Mijares, Santiago Casilla, Sandy Rosario (who took a ball of the finger but will be fine to go tomorrow), Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo to close out the win, and Romo provided a scary moment when he let the Diamondbacks close the deficit to one with two outs in the ninth. It was Cody Ross who ended up striking out to end the game and secure the series victory for the Giants, who are now surging with wins in five of their last six games.
— It wasn’t all bad defense for Cain. Andres Torres is a much more tolerable outfielder when he’s playing in center rather than left:
— Remember that inning I mentioned where Francouer walked with no outs and the bases loaded and somehow plated the only run of the inning? Two plays at home plate resulted in outs for the Giants, the second of which provided us a chance to marvel at Hunter Pence’s tackling abilities:
— This was a reeeeaaallll pretty strikeout from Romo to end the game: