All seemed right in Giants World with Matt Cain‘s return.
He’s gotten his team through five, six innings tops since his July 2 return, and had a three-game winning streak since he blanked the Mets a few weeks back. He even had 101 pitches to give in his last start against San Diego.
The next step for Cain? To evolve past a controlled inning-eater to a legitimate deep-game threat. Bruce Bochy said before today’s game he had no set numbers when it came to the rotation, but Madison Bumgarner needs that second punch to his mighty first. Chris Heston has been the obvious choice at No. 2, but it almost feels wrong to see Cain whither deep into the rotation.
Tuesday night, he took a big step back from that spot as the last-place Milwaukee Brewers pummeled him for eight hits in their 5-2 win, ending the Giants’ six-game winning streak and preserving the Dodgers’ one-half game lead in the NL West.
Cain (L, 2-2, 4.50 ERA) had little relief, pitching out of the stretch almost every inning. His breaking stuff wasn’t biting and he lost the strike zone on some key 0-2 pitches. Gerardo Parra, with a two-strike count, led off the first inning with a double to left and Carlos Gomez doubled the other way to send him home. Adam Lind hit an RBI single to give Milwaukee a 2-0 lead.
Bochy said of Cain’s struggles:
“Maybe he was off a little bit in his delivery and just a bit out of rhythm. He had good stuff, threw some good off speed pitches but threw some up…Sometimes these things aren’t explained they’re just not as sharp one game to another. But he couldn’t quite get the ball where he wanted it.”
Parra was all over the field, going 3-for-4, scoring three of the Brewers’ five runs, and giving the crowd-favorite belly slide-n-catch in right off the bat of Brandon Crawford in the seventh. Fans obviously weren’t feeling this one, though, since it chilled the Giants’ only rally.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Cain gave up another run in the third and then the fourth, but found his way through six innings despite the trouble after making some too-little-too-late adjustments, said Cain:
“Today wasn’t terrible. I just made some pitches that caught the wrong part of the plate and they took advantage of them and I didn’t make the adjustment to get them off of the plate. And when I did I was already three, four runs down.”
So who’s the real Matt Cain? He bullied some mediocre teams — the Mets, Diamondbacks and Padres — in his wins, but let the last-place Brewers knock him down. The true test could come in his next starts on the road against the tough Braves and Cubs squads.
For now let’s call this recent Cain-pain flukey, creeping on inconsistent. But not yet dire.
The Giants offense just flatlined and died Tuesday against not-s0-threatening Wily Peralta (W, 2-5, 3.90 ERA), who showed up big with five innings of shutout ball.
The Giants’ only offensive threat came off the bench. Gregor Blanco entered in the sixth in a double switch (for Nori Aoki) and got two hits. But the Giants finally got on the board in the seventh when Buster Posey snuck a leadoff walk and Hunter Pence doubled off the right field fence, sending Posey to third. Brandon Belt sent him home on a sacrifice out before Parra’s diving catch robbed Crawford of an extra-base hit turned sac fly.
Vogey in relief, Machi gone
The overflowing rotation sent waves through the bullpen as well. Jean Machi, who was DFA’d July 20, was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox. He’ll be chilling, or roasting, with Pablo over in Boston.
Ryan Vogelsong is the new bullpen arm making it happen when others need a rest. He pitched a scoreless, hitless eighth and in 5 2/3 innings in relief, has given up no runs on just three hits.
Joe Panik sat out Tuesday’s game with a stiff back he started feeling a few days ago. He’ll probably sit out for Wednesday’s game as well, giving him three days off before the big midwest road trip.