Cain’s struggles continue in Giants’ 6-0 loss to Padres

Published: Monday, Jun. 23, 2014 - 11:51 pm

SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Cain was asked Monday night what he thinks of his current numbers, which now read 1-6 with a 4.82 ERA after the Giants lost 6-0 to the Padres in Cain's most recent start. Rather abruptly, Cain answered: "Not worried about it. I've got to worry about giving these guys a chance to win. What my record is and what my numbers look like, it doesn't matter."

After he'd showered, changed and began heading for the clubhouse door, though, Cain stopped a group of reporters and clarified his answer. "The biggest thing is, I haven't done the job I need to do to give my team a chance to win," he said, "which is what I'm supposed to."

Cain, the erstwhile ace of the Giants' staff, has delivered just three quality starts in his 12 outing this season. Monday, he allowed six runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings, though he was a few timely pitches away from a much better line. The Padres scored three times in the fourth inning on a pair of two-out doubles and added three more in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

And that, Cain said, has been the biggest issue for him in a disappointing first half. "I've been throwing the ball good," he said. "But I haven't been making the pitch that I needed to here and there to really shut down an inning and keep the guys going, and I need to do a better job of that. I think everything else will work itself out, but I need to make those pitches."

Case in point Monday were two two-strike pitches in the fourth -- a 2-2 changeup that Yasmani Grandal crushed to right-center for an RBI double, and a 1-2 curve that Tommy Medica lined off the glove of a leaping Pablo Sandoval for a two-run double. Cain said both were location mistakes -- the changeup a "really bad" miss, while the curve "wasn't terrible (but) I maybe could've thrown it lower or a little farther away from him."

Cain has now allowed 19 earned runs in 24 1/3 innings in four starts since his DL stint for a right hamstring strain. His previous start was probably his worst of the season -- seven earned runs and 10 hits allowed in five innings in Chicago. Manager Bruce Bochy said he thought Cain "threw the ball better" on Monday.

"He had good stuff tonight," Bochy said. "He got some pitches up in the (fourth) inning, then the (eighth), he didn't throw the ball that bad, just gave up a couple ground ball hits. I just think it was overall a better outing for him. He should feel better about the outing."

Cain said he did take some positives out of pitching into the eighth inning in his second-longest outing of the season. His stuff, as Bochy said, did not appear to be lacking -- he hit 93 mph with his fastball, struck out seven and walked just one.

But when you're a proven performer with a contract like Cain's, there's a premium put on results, and right now it's difficult to find a lot of positives there. The Giants are 4-8 this season when Cain takes the mound. Before this year, the latest Cain had ever earned his second win of the season was May 21. With one start left in June, he's still looking for that.

"I can tell you he's probably getting a little tired of it," Bochy said. "He gives you all he has every game he pitches, and he did tonight. We couldn't get any runs for him. Like I said, it was a better outing. But I'm sure it's wearing on him."

Cain's first answer when asked about his numbers Monday night might not have showed as much. But his addendum spoke volumes.

• As Bochy said, though, the Giants didn't do anything offensively to help Cain on this night against a pitcher making his major-league debut and eighth start overall in affiliated baseball. Odrisamer Despaigne had pitched his entire career for the Havana Industriales of Cuba's Serie Nacional before the Padres signed him to a minor-league deal on May 2. He made two starts in Double-A, then five more in Triple-A before San Diego called him up to spot-start in place of Andrew Cashner on Monday night.

The Giants, as a result, were facing a pitcher they knew next to nothing about. Bochy said their baseball operations staff was able to dig up some film of Despaigne, though Hunter Pence said the film he saw of the right-hander was limited to one game and from an odd, high-above angle that made it tough to see the movement on Despaigne's pitches.

Still, Pence said: "You can't say that it was a lack of scouting, or we didn't have the film. He just pitched good. ... I could have all the information in the world, but if you're throwing like six pitches and locating well, moving different direction and different speeds, you're going to have a good outing."

Pence said in his three at-bats against Despaigne, "He threw me pretty much everything. I saw an extremely slow curveball, I saw a slider, saw a cutter, sinkers, sidearm sinkers." At one point in the sixth inning, the Giants' TV broadcast had a graphic with Despaigne's mph range in the game: His fastball had reacehd 92 mph, while his slowest curveball had registered at 65 mph.

Despaigne also pounded the strike zone -- he'd thrown 40 strikes to just 19 balls at one point -- and completed seven innings on 86 pitches. "It looked like he was playing catch with the catcher," Bochy said. "He looked very comfortable."

There wasn't a lot to suggest Despaigne would have this kind of outing in his debut -- his ERA in seven minor-league starts was 6.03. Bochy said he thinks unfamiliarity normally benefits the pitcher more than the hitters, at least early in the game, but added: "I'm not taking anything away. He threw well."

• Adding to Cain's frustration in the fourth was the fact that even after his mistake to Grandal, he had a chance to escape the inning with one run allowed after an umpires' review overturned what had originally been ruled a three-run home run for Grandal. Umpires ruled a fan had reached over the wall and caught the ball, and ordered Grandal back to second base and Seth Smith, who had been on first, back to third.

Padres manager Bud Black immediately argued the ruling and was quickly ejected. The review came after Pence pointed emphatically toward the stands indicating he believed the fan had interfered.

"I didn't know right away, but it looked like the guy reached over and caught it with his hat," Pence said. "I was just kind of running in to be like, what are the rules to review that? And I found out it's the same as it used to be -- the umpires' discretion. It's such a long ways away, they want to get it right."

It was a relatively long review, and Cain threw several pitches to stay warm, but said he was not affected by the delay when he then surrendered the two-run double to Medica. "I mean, it's tough to stand there," Cain said. "But we're worried about trying to make sure to get the call right. I was loose."

• Bochy was asked afterward for an update on Angel Pagan, who took batting practice and fly balls before the game, and said: "I think he's the same." So no answer yet on whether the Giants will use the DL for Pagan, who has now missed seven games with back inflammation.

Pagan said that during his pre-game work he felt: "All right. I don't want to say great, but OK." Asked about a possible timetable, he said: "I have no idea. I'm just going out there positive and hopefully soon I'll be ready."

The Giants, meanwhile, made a roster move shortly before the game that provides some cushion in the outfield. They placed infielder Ehire Adrianza on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain and recalled Juan Perez from Triple-A Fresno. Perez was with the team Monday night.

• In other injury news, the Giants announced that second baseman Marco Scutaro will start a rehab assignment Tuesday with their Arizona League affiliate. The plan is for Scutaro to play three innings in his first game. It marks a pretty significant step for the second baseman, who has battled a balky back since spring training and recently had a platelet-rich plasma procedure to try to expedite his return.

• Joe Panik went hitless in his AT&T Park debut, but received a couple of loud ovations when he was introduced with the Giants' lineup before the game and before his first at-bat. Tomorrow's print story will be on Panik's whirlwind first few days in the majors.

One note: His No. 12 isn't a personal choice (he wore No. 2 in college and the minors in a nod to Derek Jeter), but there is a connection. Panik said 12, which clubhouse manager Mike Murphy assigned him upon arrival Saturday, is what he wore in Little League.

"(Murphy) didn't even know," Panik said. "But it kind of works out that way."

• Despite consecutive wins to end their road trip, the Giants apparently haven't kicked their June skid completely. They've now lost seven of eight at home, following their first shutout at the hands of the Padres since Sept. 11, 2010. It was the fifth time they've been shut out this season, and the first since May 31.

The Dodgers also lost Monday, though, so the Giants' lead in the West stays four games. They'll try to even this series Tuesday night behind Tim Hudson (7-3, 2.39), while the Padres counter with right-hander Jesse Hahn (2-1, 2.16), who will be making his fourth career major-league start. First pitch at 7:15 p.m.


Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

Read more articles by Matt Kawahara



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