May 12, 2011
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Our MLB Insider takes a look at the Giants' intense 3-2 victory over the visiting Diamondbacks on Thursday in the finale of a three-game series at AT&T Park in San Francisco.Cain deals with pain: Giants right-hander Matt Cain did plenty with his arm to help close out the 6-0 homestand, scattering six hits and a walk while striking out seven over 7 23 innings to pick up his first win since April 20 and extend San Francisco's season-best wining streak to six games in front of the team's 15th sellout crowd in 15 home games this year. What he did with his bat in the seventh inning was nearly as impressive, dropping down a gorgeous sacrifice bunt almost immediately after taking a fastball from Arizona starter Daniel Hudson off his left handoff what was ruled a foul ball. It set up the second run of the game during a two-run insurance inning that proved huge.
RECAP: Cain masterful, Giants sweep again
Giving it up: Cain took a little good-natured ribbing for not acknowledging the standing ovation he received while walking off the mound after his superlative start at AT&T during last year's World Series, but his reasoning was in keeping with his team-first attitude. There were runners on base at the time, he explained, so tipping his cap wouldn't have felt quite right. "I feel kind of bad about it now, though," he said during spring training. He got two standing-O's on Thursday, the first after his bunt and the second while walking to the dugout after being removed from the game with two out in the bottom of the eighth, and although there were runners at the corner when he left the game, Cain did, in fact, doff his cap right before hitting the dugout steps. Don't expect to see it again, though -- both runners ended up scoring to quickly drain the park of the overflowing good vibes.Making his mark: Eli Whiteside, in his seventh start of the season behind the plate, has great respect among the team's pitchers for his game-calling ability, and he and Cain appeared to be on the same page all day. Far less heralded for his offensive prowess, Whiteside nevertheless seems to have a knack for impacting the few games in which he participates. His contributions Thursday included a pair of doubles, the second of which opened the bottom of the seventh to ignite the rally that iced the affair.Chink in the armor: While it wasn't charged with a run, extending its streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 22 13 innings over the past nine games, the Giants bullpen wasn't as lights-out as it's been of late. Lefty Jeremy Affeldt took over for Cain and allowed an inherited runner to score on an infield single by the only batter he faced, and Ramon Ramirez took over for Affeldt and allowed another inherited runner to score on a single to left by the first batter he faced. With closer Brian Wilson unavailable after working in all five of the Giants' previous games, Sergio Romo started the top of the ninth but gave up a single to the only batter he faced and Javier Lopez gave up a single to the second batter he faced to put runners at the corners with one out before striking out the next two Snakes to lock down his first save of the season.DeRosa's 'D': Given his second start at third base in three games since coming off the disabled list, Mark DeRosa showed off the athleticism that made him a two-sport star at Penn of the Ivy League -- he was the football team's starting quarterback -- with one of the best defensive plays of game. With one out in the second inning, DeRosa charged a bunt off the bat of Ryan Roberts, made a bare-handed pickup and threw an off-balance dart across his body, with all of his momentum heading toward home plate, to nail Roberts by a half-step at first base.Sudden impact: DeRosa's defensive gem was trumped an inning later when right fielder Nate Schierholtz, who in the bottom of the second put the Giants on the scoreboard with an RBI single that snapped him out of a 1-for-10 homestead slide, expertly played Gerardo Parra's drive to the base of the wall in right-center by making a clean pickup and wheeling to fire a one-hop strike to second base that required virtually no movement of shortstop Miguel Tejada's glove and beat Parra to the bag by mere inches. Tejada likely bought those inches when he lulled Parra into cruise control by nonchalantly loitering at the bag as if Schierholtz had no shot. Bochy on Buster: While hanging out in an otherwise deserted dugout about 40 minutes before Thursday's first pitch, Giants manager Bruce Bochy chuckled when I asked if he ever suffered a concussion during his career as a big-league catcher; the topic is timely because Buster Posey took a couple of shots to the mask Wednesday, left the game for precautionary reasons and, despite having passed concussion "tests" administered by the Giants' medical staff, was held out of Thursday's starting lineup. Bochy, who noted that Posey likely would have gotten the day off even without the skull scare, was never diagnosed with a concussion as a player and theorized that (a) it might take a wrecking ball to do any real damage to his famously huge melon, and (b) "They probably wouldn't have been able to tell anything was different because I was never all that quick on the uptake to begin with."