Yikes! On the same day the Yankees lost Curtis Granderson for 10 weeks with a broken arm after being hit by a pitch, the Giants got a scare when Matt Cain took a line drive off his knee in the Giants’ 4-3 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Cain hobbled around a bit after taking the liner. But made two warmup throws and remained in the game.
The results weren’t great. He gave up four runs in that first inning, although all of the runs were unearned because the rally was aided by a Brandon Belt error.
This is how Cain’s inning went:
David DeJesus flied to to center; Starlin Castro singled to center; Anthony Rizzo reached on Belt’s errant throw while trying to force Castro at second; Alfonso Soriano singled off Cain’s knee to load the bases; Nate Schierholtz grounded out on an infield nubber, scoring Castro; Dioner Navarro hits a 3-run homer; Brian Bogusevic doubled to left; Darwin Barney grounded out.
Cain came out after one inning, and had his knee wrapped in ice afterwards, but said he was fine.
“It was kind of an initial shock when you get hit,” Cain told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It takes a little bit to get the feeling back. I feel fine. It’s nothing to worry about.”
- Pablo Sandoval was told by manager Bruce Bochy that he would get to play in spring training games until the Panda got his weight down to a certain level. Sandoval hit that target weight and is the only Giant to play in both of the first two spring training games. He went 2 for 3 with a double and RBI on Sunday and is 3 for 5 this spring.
- Francisco Peguero, trying to make the club as a reserve, went 2 for 3 with a double.
- Angel Villalona made his spring training debut. He went 1 for 3, grounding to third, lining to center and adding a bloop single to left.
- Seven relievers (Steve Edlefsen, Justin Fitzgerald, Santiago Casilla, Jose Mijares, Sandy Rosario, Dan Runzler and Heath Hembree) each pitched a scoreless inning. Most notable was Hembree, who pitched around a double in the ninth. He was topping out at 89-90 mph in his first outing of the spring.
Links of the day
Madison Bumgarner takes the mound as the Giants face the White Sox at 12:05 p.m. in Scottsdale.
So you’d think since we were advocating for Ryan Vogelsong to be the opening day starter that we’d be upset with Bruce Bochy’s announced rotation.
Bochy said the rotation will go like this:
- RHP Matt Cain
- LHP Madison Bumgarner
- RHP Tim Lincecum
- LHP Barry Zito
- RHP Ryan Vogelsong
But we don’t have any problem with this rotation, and here are six good reasons why we like this rotation.
NO. 1: Barry Zito earned the right to open the home opener when the Giants will hoist their 2012 World Series flag. It was Zito who saved the season in Game 5 of the NLCS with his gem in the fourth of the six elimination games the Giants faced last fall.
NO. 2: It sets up the right-left-right-left-right format in the rotation.
NO. 3: Putting Lincecum at the No. 3 slot instead of Vogelsong keeps Timmy’s fragile psyche in place. Vogey can handle being the No. 5 better than Lincecum, who has been the No. 1 guy the past four seasons.
NO. 4: The Giants have won the past 14 games started by Zito, and the Giants want to win their home opener.
NO. 5: Last weekend when Cain, Bumgarner and Lincecum started the season opening series in Arizona — not necessarily in that order — and the Giants lost all three games, it was Zito who pitched a shutout in his season debut in Colorado. Pitching in San Francisco will be much easier.
NO. 6: It’s sets up the rotation against the Cardinals exactly as it aligned in Games 5, 6 and 7 of the NLCS: Zito, Vogelsong, Cain.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday that he has a pretty good idea of who is opening day starter will be. He just needs to talk to pitcher Dave Righetti and the pitcher first before announcing his decision.
Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area said “It has to be Matt Cain.” To watch Baggs talk about it, click here.
That shouldn’t come as a shock to many Giants fans, and I doubt many would argue with that choice. Heck, even Tim Lincecum was all on board for Cain getting that nod on April 1 against the Dodgers.
Lincecum has been the Giants’ opening day starter the past four years. Before that, it was Barry Zito (2007-08), Jason Schmidt (2005-06), Kirk Rueter (2003-04) and Livan Hernandez (2000-02).
Cain has earned the nod. He’s been with the Giants since 2005. He threw a perfect game last season. He started the All-Star Game. He started the first game of the postseason last season. And he started all three clinching games last postseason.
All good reasons for going with Cainer. But I’m going to offer another choice: Ryan Vogelsong.
OK, for the entire regular season in 2012, Cain was better than Vogelsong.
- Cain: 16-5, 2.79 ERA, 219.1 IP, 193 K, 1.040 WHIP
- Vogelsong: 14-9, 3.37 ERA, 189.2 IP, 158 K, 1.228 WHIP
But we’ll offer you several reasons for Vogey.
BEFORE THE FUNK: In seven starts from Aug. 13 to Sept. 16, Vogelsong went 2-4 with a 10.30 ERA. Yikes! But before the funk, Vogelsong was the Giants’ best pitcher. He was 10-5 with a league-best 2.27 ERA. At that same time, Cain was 10-5 with 3.01 ERA. Now while we shouldn’t punish Cain for finishing the season strong, we also shouldn’t downgrade Vogelsong for an isolated slump. After Vogelsong emerged from his funk, he finished the regular season 2-0 with 1.06 ERA in his final three starts.
POSTSEASON: Yes, Cain started the first postseason game for the Giants in 2012 and he was on the mound on all three series clinchers. But, as a whole, Cain finished the postseason 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA in five postseason starts. Not bad, but no comparison to Vogelsong. Vogey went 3-0 with 1.09 ERA in four postseason starts. Cain never would have had the chance to start three clinchers if Vogelsong hadn’t kept the Giants in the game in Game 3 vs. the Reds when the Giants were being held hitless.
LAST TWO YEARS: Compare Cain and Vogelsong over 2011 and 2012, the numbers are very comparable.
- Vogelsong: 27-16 3.05 ERA
- Cain: 28-16 2.84 ERA
If you take out one disastrous start for Vogelsong — the Aug. 13 start last season vs. the Nationals when Vogelsong got tagged for eight runs in 2.2 innings — and the numbers are almost identical. Vogelsong’s adjusted numbers would be 27-15 with a 2.87 ERA.
SENTIMENT: Yes, Cain has never received an opening day nod despite eight great seasons with the Giants. But Vogelsong hasn’t even been on the active 25-man roster on opening day with the Giants, and that goes back to the 2000-01 seasons. In 2011, despite a great spring, he didn’t break into the rotation to open the season. He went to Fresno, but then got the call two weeks later when Barry Zito went on the DL. Last season, he got a late start in the spring because of back problems. That put him on the DL to open the season.
MORE SENTIMENT: Vogelsong has a great story. Traded by the Giants in 2001 in the Jason Schmidt deal, Tommy John surgery in 2001 that kept him out of the majors until 2003, out of major league baseball by 2006, pitched in Japan three seasons, signed and released by both the Phillies and Angels in 2010, signed by Giants in 2011, called up from Fresno in April 2011, earned All-Star bid in 2011 (although he never got in the game), hosed out of All-Star bid in 2012.
FUTURE IS NOW: Cain is 28. He’s under contract with the Giants through 2018. There will be plenty of chances for Cain to get the opening day nod. Vogelsong is 36. How many more opening days does he have?
GAME READY: Vogelsong will be pitching the World Baseball Classic for the USA. That means he will have pitched in meaningful games before the season starts.
VOGELSONG, DODGER SLAYER: In 2012, Cain was 1-0 with 2.73 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers. Not bad, but it can’t compare to Vogelsong, who was 2-1 with a 0.71 ERA in 25.1 innings against the boys in blue. Not only that, but all four starts Vogelsong made against the Dodgers came against Clayton Kershaw, the presumed Dodgers opening day starter. The point is to win the game, right? So why not go with Vogelsong, given the matchup.
Cain may be the “no-brainer” pick for opening day. But sometimes the right answer isn’t the obvious one.
So this might be the chance for Bochy to think outside the box.
So what do you say, Boch? Doesn’t chicken enchiladas sound great on opening day?
If the Giants are going to have success in the post-Melky era, Friday’s game at San Diego is the model for how they should go about doing it.
The Giants got outstanding pitching from Matt Cain and offensive contributions from up and down the lineup to pound the Padres in the opener of their three-game series.
For the ninth time in their past 14 road games, the Giants scored six runs or more. Not surprising, the Giants are 9-0 in those game. They are 1-4 in the other five games in that stretch. They have six of their past eight road games.
The win, coupled with the Braves’ extra-inning win over the Dodgers, pushed the Giants back into first place in the NL West by a half-game.
Every starter in the Giants’ lineup — including pitcher Matt Cain — collected at least one hit. Five Giants had multi-hit games:
- Angel Pagan was 3 for 5 with a triple
- Marco Scutaro was 2 for 5 with a home run
- Hunter Pence was 2 for 4 with a double
- Gregor Blanco was 2 for 4
- Brandon Crawford was 2 for 5 with a double, extending his current hitting streak to nine games.
Matt Cain, who watched his ERA climb in each of his four starts from July 21 to Aug. 6, put together his second consecutive quality start, holding the Padres hitless until the fifth inning and finishing with one earned run on four hits, no walks in eight innings of work. He struck out six.
For all the belly-aching by fans across the country and the rabid tweets from Mets president Sandy Alderson, the fans and Tony LaRussa got it right in putting four San Francisco Giants into the starting lineup of the NL All-Star team.
The Giants’ stat lines were pretty good
- CF Melky Cabrera: 2 for 3, home run, two runs, two RBI.
- C Buster Posey: 0 for 2, walk, run, five scoreless innings caught
- 3B Pablo Sandoval: 1 for 2, triple, run, 3 RBI
- P Matt Cain: 2 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 BB, 1 strikeout, win.
If you missed the start of the game, you missed a thrilling first inning.
After Carlos Gonzalez struck out to open the game, Cabrera singled to left and scored on Ryan Braun’s double.
After Joey Votto struck out, Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey drew walks.
Braun, Beltran and Posey all scored when Sandoval dug out a Verlander curveball and hit it off the wall just inside the right-field foul pole for a triple.
I don’t get many triples,” the Panda said. “We had some fun with that in the dugout.”
Just like that, it was 5-0 National League.
Cabrera grounded out to second in the second. Posey popped out to catcher Mike Napoli in the third and Pablo Sandoval flied to center in the fourth.
But Cabrera capped the exciting night for the Giants by hammering a two-run homer to left off the Rangers’ Matt Harrison, making it 8-0.
That home run made Cabrera the first Giant to be selected All-Star Game MVP since Bobby Bonds in 1973 in a game also played in Kansas City.
“I didn’t come to win an MVP. That’s just a surprise,” he said. “The same opportunity that Kansas City gave me last year is the same opportunity that San Francisco is giving me every day to showcase my talent. Again, I’m just very thankful for the fans that voted for me to come here.”
He can also thank Jose Bautista for the MVP trophy and the Camaro that came with it.
Bautista made a nifty sliding catch on a looper off the bat of Braun in the second inning. If Bautista doesn’t make that play, Braun finishes the night 3 for 3 with a single, double and triple … and likely with an MVP honor.
After all the Giants left the game, the All-Star Game went quiet.
Cain earned the victory, becoming the first Giants pitcher to earn an All-Star win since Vida Blue in 1981.
“For those guys to go out and score five runs in the first inning was definitely a little more relaxing for me,” he said. “But I still tried to stay focused.”
Giants All-Star MVPs
- Willie Mays, 1963 (Cleveland)
- Juan Marichal, 1965 (Minnesota)
- Willie Mays, 1968 (Houston)
- Willie McCovey, 1969 (Washington)
- Bobby Bonds, 1973 (Kansas City)
- Melky Cabrera, 2012 (Kansas City)
Giants All-Star winning pitchers
- Sal Maglie, 1951 (Detroit)
- Johnny Antonelli, 1959 (Pittsburgh)
- Stu Miller, 1961 (San Francisco)
- Juan Marichal, 1962 (Washington)
- Juan Marichal, 1964 (New York-Shea)
- Gaylord Perry, 1966 (St. Louis)
- Vida Blue, 1981 (Cleveland)
For the second time this season, Matt Cain has helped establish a Giants franchise first.
Last month, Cain became the first pitcher in Giants history to throw a perfect game.
On Tuesday in Kansas City, he will become seventh Giants pitcher to start the All-Star Game for the National League.
Cain’s selection as the NL starter by manager Tony LaRussa gives the Giants four All-Star starters for the first time in franchise history.
In short, if you’re a Giants fan, be sure to tune into the All-Star Game early.
Cain is joined on the starting lineup by catcher Buster Posey, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and outfielder Melky Cabrera, all voted starters in fan voting.
This is Cain’s third All-Star selection, but it will be the first time he’ll actually get to pitch in the game. Cain was not used in 2009 by manager Charlie Manuel, and last season he pitched the Sunday before the All-Star Game, making him ineligible to pitch in the midsummer’s classic.
Let’s hope Cain has better success than other recent Giants pitchers have fared as All-Star Game starters. In their first three All-Star starts, Giants pitchers (Carl Hubbell and Juan Marichal twice) did not allow a run, giving up a combined four hits in nine innings. Marichal was the All-Star MVP in 1965.
But since then, three of the last four Giants All-Star starters were tagged for at least two runs, although none of them ending up as the losing pitcher.
Here’s a look at how Giants have fare as the NL starting pitcher:
- 1934, Carl Hubbell 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K
- 1965, Juan Marichal, 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R
- 1967, Juan Marichal, 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 K
- 1978, Vida Blue, 3 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
- 1989, Rick Reuschel, 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER
- 2003, Jason Schmidt, 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 K
- 2009, Tim Lincecum, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 K
WASHINGTON NATIONALS 9, GIANTS 4: BOX SCORE
Last week, Matt Cain wasn’t able to keep a good pitching streak going for the Giants.
Now, the Giants need Cain to stop the bleeding in Washington, D.C.
Cain takes the mound Thursday in the season finale against the Nationals after Washington beat the Giants 9-3 and 9-4.
It’s the first time since 2006 that two Giants starters gave up seven earned runs in consecutive starts.
On Sept. 21, 2006, Matt Morris gave up nine earned runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings during a 9-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in Wisconsin.
The next day, Jonathan Sanchez was tagged for eight runs on eight hits in two-plus innings against the Brewers. The Giants lost that day 13-12, but Sanchez did not suffer the defeat, amazingly enough.
Last week, Cain followed no-run efforts from Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner by giving up a run on the first pitch against the Reds.
Now Cainer needs to follow seven earned-run efforts by shutting down the Nats.
Cain faces Ross Detwiler at 4 p.m. The game will be carried on MLB Network.