DENVER — After two seasons of worrying about bone chips and flexor strains and cysts and everything else in his right arm, Matt Cain can finally worry about results. That’s what made Thursday’s game disappointing.
Cain had a sharp slider early and was touching 93 mph with his fastball, but the fifth inning snowballed on him and ended up being a nine-run frame. The Giants could never slow things down, losing 11-6 and dropping the final two games of this series with the Rockies.
Cain struck out four the first time through the order, and he had given up just one hit when Gerardo Parra smashed a high slider to lead off the fifth. It was as good as Cain has looked in a couple of years, but the Rockies knocked him out in the fifth. Cain wanted to try to close the inning out, but he was pulled after loading the bases on his 38th pitch of the inning.
“It just kind of got out of hand and they ended up putting a big number on us,” he said.
The biggest blow may have been a bloop single on the 10th pitch of a battle with Rule 5 catcher Tony Wolters.
“He’s doing the same thing I’m doing,” Cain said. “He’s trying to get a hit and I’m trying to find a way to get an out. You’ve got to give him credit.”
Another bloop followed, then a liner to right that was just out of the reach of Hunter Pence. Bochy noted that a few mistakes got to the Giants that inning (the fielding was not crisp all series) but he liked the way Cain was throwing.
“I just couldn’t take any risk there once he got to a long inning with pitches,” Bochy said. “I had to go get him … I didn’t want to take any chances.”
Chris Heston entered and gave up a two-run double, and then a three-run double. The nine-run inning was the first for Giants pitchers in over three years, but there was a silver lining: Cain can be annoyed by the result, but his arm feels great, and the Giants feel he again has the stuff and stamina to compete every fifth day.
“These guys can hit and I feel like the way I was throwing the ball today is something you can build off,” Cain said. “That’s what’s been nice. In between starts, you go out there and work on pitches, not wonder how it’s going to feel. That’s really refreshing.”
--- When the Giants hosted the Dodgers last weekend they had no players on the DL and the Dodgers had 11. Now, Sergio Romo is shut down with a flexor strain and half the infield is hobbled. Buster Posey was back in the lineup after missing two days with a bruised foot, but Bochy pulled him early.
"I didn't want to take any chances with him," Bochy said.
That move meant Joe Panik -- who had a sore hip -- entered on a double-switch and hit in Posey's spot late in the game. Brandon Crawford was pulled at the same time as Posey because of a tight hip flexor. Crawford said he felt it flare up when he grabbed the relay on Mark Reynolds' double and turned home. The hip tightness is something he has dealt with on and off over the years.
"I hope it's not something that sticks around," he said. "It shouldn't be ... usually it goes away pretty quickly."
Crawford deemed himself "questionable" for Friday night but joked that he probably would have been questionable to start against Clayton Kershaw anyway. His backup, Ehire Adrianza, was pulled from Thursday's game after fouling a ball off his back foot. Tests came back negative, but Adrianza said he won't know if he can play Friday until he takes the field at Dodger Stadium and does some running.
This all leaves Kelby Tomlinson as the only healthy shortstop at the moment, but Bochy feels he has enough coverage to survive until guys get back to full strength. The Giants do actually have a creative emergency option. Backup catcher Trevor Brown is a converted infielder and in theory could play second or third, and the starters at second and third are former shortstops. Brown didn't bring his infield glove on this trip but thought he might have one back home. He's a Los Angeles-area native, so you figure the Brown family will be making the drive to Dodger Stadium anyway.
--- This was, all in all, not a great day for the Giants. The good news? Madison Bumgarner pitches tomorrow. The better news? At least they're not the Braves, who have already tied the Warriors in losses.