Instant Replay: Cain does it all as Giants down D'backs

Instant Replay: Cain does it all as Giants down D'backs


SAN FRANCISCO — Before Wednesday’s game, manager Bruce Bochy again talked about the possibility of skipping his No. 5 starter next week when the Giants have two off days. Not so fast, Matt Cain said. 

The longest-tenured Giant had a throwback performance, allowing just one run in five innings and scoring the first Giants run of the night. The bullpen was brilliant as the rain came and the Giants piled on late, pulling away with a 6-2 win over the Diamondbacks. The series win was the first of the season, and it gave Cain his first victory since August 6.

Cain’s second pitch of the night was smoked for a triple by A.J. Pollock, who promptly strolled home on a sacrifice fly. Cain would walk two in that inning, but once he got out of the first, he found a groove. After a leadoff single in the second, Cain retired 11 of 12, six going down on strikeouts. David Peralta hit a two-out single ahead of Paul Goldschmidt in the fifth, but Cain got the dangerous first baseman to ground out to third. 

At that point, it looked like this would be a good old-fashioned Caining. The Giants changed that in the bottom of the fifth, and Cain was the one to provide the first charge. He roped a double to left and raced home when Pollock got a poor initial grip on Denard Span’s single to center. After a walk of Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence took an awkward stab at the ball and poked an RBI single to right. Conor Gillaspie’s single made it 3-1. 

Cain’s night wouldn’t last much longer. When the first two Diamondbacks reached in the top of the sixth, Bruce Bochy came out with the hook. Cory Gearrin entered and struck out three straight, all swinging, to put a bow on Cain’s solid night. 

The wind kept the Giants in the park in the seventh, but it didn’t keep them off the scoreboard. Nick Hundley and Jarrett Parker both crushed balls that would have been homers during a day game, and instead turned into extra-base hits that sparked a three-run rally. 

Starting pitching report: Cain was charged with one run in five-plus innings. He had just three starts last season of at least 15 outs and fewer than two runs. 

Bullpen report: The Giants optioned Steven Okert to Triple-A because they wanted to keep Gearrin and Neil Ramirez. So far, those two have 12 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. 

At the plate: Cain was the most dangerous hitter on staff for years, but he was just 2-for-43 the last two seasons. The double left his bat at 106 mph. 

In the field: George Kontos, owner of many pairs of Jordans, made a leaping grab to snag a bouncer and end the seventh.

Attendance: Before the game, the 492nd consecutive announced sellout crowd cheered a Gold Glove ceremony. 

Up next: The Giants get their first look at the Rockies, a dark-horse pick to make noise in the division. The series opener is Madison Bumgarner vs. Jon Gray. 

Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts


Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants moved closer to setting their opening day roster on Monday when they made a significant round of cuts to their spring training roster. 

A total of 15 players were reassigned or optioned, bringing the total to 31 players remaining in camp. Many of the players cut Monday entered the spring competing for jobs. 

In the outfield, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater were optioned to Triple-A and Chris Shaw was reassigned to minor league camp. Williamson had a huge spring and was the likeliest of the trio to push for an opening day spot, but he'll start his year in the minors. Steven Duggar was not among the cuts, and he remains an option to make the team, with the Giants also looking at Gregor Blanco, Gorkys Hernandez and Jarrett Parker for backup spots. Hernandez and Parker are out of minor league options. 

Tyler Beede was optioned and Andrew Suarez was reassigned to minor league camp, leaving three players vying for the final two rotation spots. Ty Blach and Chris Stratton have been the favorites all along, although both struggled the last time out and Derek Holland has had a strong spring. 

Both backup catchers -- Trevor Brown and Hector Sanchez -- were reassigned, along with Orlando Calixte, who saw time in the big leagues last year. Joan Gregorio, Jose Valdez, Justin O'Conner and Kyle Jensen were also reassigned. Chase d'Arnaud, who appeared to be making a strong push, was on the list, too, leaving Josh Rutledge as the only competition for Kelby Tomlinson for the final infield spot. 

Finally, Derek Law and Roberto Gomez were optioned to Triple-A. Josh Osich remains and appears the frontrunner for a bullpen job. Julian Fernandez, the Rule 5 pick, also remains in camp. 

The Giants break camp on Friday.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.