Cain’s gem spoiled by Blue Jays

Last time Matt Cain and J.A. Happ faced off was June 13, 2012. In which Cain hurled a perfect game.

Something to remember about that game, though, was that the 2012 Giants scored 10 runs for their guy. Cain was Cain-ing and didn’t even get Cain’d.

Things went a little differently this time, as the Giants couldn’t give Cain any run support in his best outing this year. Happ pitched a 8-2/3 shutout, and the Giants fell 4-0 to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

If anything, Cain’s outing was encouraging for a club that is posting a combined 4.36 ERA — 21st in the majors — and allowing a .273 batting average to opponents. The back of the rotation, where Cain sits with a  6.69 ERA of his own, has raised some eyebrows.

Tonight, he went eight innings and struck out seven, tying a season-high. To put the eight-inning outing into perspective: Cain hadn’t gone beyond six since a June 2014 game against the Reds. Buster Posey noticed in the pre-game bullpen session that Cain was on:

“He was really crisp in the ‘pen. That doesn’t always translate, but it was good tonight. … He threw the ball great today. He was down in the zone, great breaking ball and fastball had really nice carry through the zone.”

Added Bruce Bochy:

“He’s been throwing the ball well to the side. I mentioned early his pre-game warmup, he just carried that into the game tonight. Good stuff. Good command, and that should do a lot for him.”

Cain noted he’s felt good all season, despite the five-loss record, but tonight he didn’t waver:

“I might have made a few more mistakes (before) and today I felt like we did a good job of keeping those to a minimum…Especially with a team that can swing it like those guys. I think this is something to try to build off of and carry this into the next one.”

One of his few mistakes: a fastball to a familiar face, Troy Tulowitzki, who pulled his sixth-career home run against Cain to put the Jays up 1-0 in the second inning.

Tulo kept up the damage, striking again with a sac fly to score Michael Saunders for Cain’s final earned run on the day.

On the flip side, Happ rolled through the Giants easily. The bats didn’t have a whole lot of fight, allowing Happ to keep low on the pitch count throughout the night.

Jarrett Parker, in his first start since being called back up from Sacramento, jolted a few semi-threats.

He drew a leadoff walk in the sixth and Kelby Tomlinson cracked a first-pitch single to advance him. Cain’s sacrifice bunt got Parker out at third on a fielder’s choice and Span followed with a double play ball. Cain crossed first and looked up to the sky in frustration:

“I just didn’t get the angle right to third and, right there, that could have changed the game. That’s our job as pitchers, is to get that bunt down where it needs to be and be able to get Denard up there with a second, third with one out. Instead it’s first and second.”

Added Bochy:

“We did run into a well pitched game these past two nights. You’re going to hit ruts like this when you’re running good pitching. … our execution hurt us today. Our guy was on, their guy was on, and there were little things that were so important to this game.”

Cain’s early season lull had him in the hot seat tonight, but the tired offense turned heads. They wasted a few more opportunities.

Tulowitzki misfired a toss to second base on a ground ball from Kelby Tomlinson that left runners on the corners with one out, but pinch hitter Trevor Brown struck out and Denard Span lined out to end that.

The Giants took one last desperate breath in the ninth that started with a Hunter Pence two-out single and Brandon Belt walk — the first baseman has now reached base safely in his last 18 games.

That got Happ right out his bid for a complete game (which would have been his first since 2010), and he surrendered the mound to Roberto Osuna to finish them off.

Osuna walked Duffy to load the bases but struck out Parker–perhaps the Giants’ best bet to smack one out– with a three-pitch at-bat.

This is the 49th game in which the Giants could not give Cain any runs of support; it’s also his fifth loss on the season. Said Posey:

“Hitting spoiled this one for all of us and for him, too.”

The Giants have been shut out for the third time this season and have scored just three runs over the past 40 innings.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.