Emotional moment: Matt Cain set to make final Giants start on Saturday

Emotional moment: Matt Cain set to make final Giants start on Saturday

PHOENIX -- As he sat at his locker Tuesday afternoon, Matt Cain laughed as he remembered his first September in the big leagues. It was 2005, and Felipe Alou originally told the 20-year-old to relax and have fun. A couple of weeks later, the Giants found themselves three games out of first. Alou approached Cain again.

"He goes, 'Hey, now we might be playing for something, kid,'" Cain remembered. 

The Giants didn't make the postseason that year, but Cain ended up being a key piece in the building of a dynasty. He won three rings, posted a 2.10 ERA in eight postseason starts, and made three All-Star teams. For those reasons and many more, the Giants will celebrate the 32-year-old this weekend.

Cain will start Saturday's game against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park. He wouldn't say if it will be his last appearance in the big leagues, but all parties know -- even if they won't publicly admit it -- that the right-hander's 331st regular-season start with the Giants will be his last for the organization.

"Its going to be a special moment for me," Cain said. "It's a moment I haven't been a part of. I'm not exactly sure what's to come after the season or next year, but this is a special moment."

Manager Bruce Bochy said it's one he has been looking forward to for a while. He has hinted for weeks that the Giants would do this for Cain.

"With what he's done for the Giants organization, he's been here since day one with me, and I wanted him to make this start at home," Bochy said. "I'm sure it's going to be emotional for him. It's important for us and for Matt to have a start there the last homestand. Matt has been great through all of this and he has provided leadership. This is going to be a special game for him and for us."

Bochy said Chris Stratton will start Friday night, meaning Madison Bumgarner is bumped from the rotation. The decision to end Bumgarner's season was not injury-related, Bochy said; he just wanted the left-hander to end his rough season on a high note. Bumgarner won at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. Johnny Cueto is tentatively scheduled to start Sunday.

Cain hasn't appeared in a game since August 31, but he threw a long bullpen session Monday afternoon. What does he have left in the tank for the final start of his 13th year with the Giants?

"We'll see -- as long as it will go," Cain said. "That's my mindset. That's been my mindset throughout my career. We go out and go as long as we can go."

Pinch-hitter Madison Bumgarner delivers walk-off to end Giants' skid

Pinch-hitter Madison Bumgarner delivers walk-off to end Giants' skid


SAN FRANCISCO —The Giants somehow ran out of position players through their first nine innings Tuesday, even with an expanded roster. All that did was lead to a pretty memorable moment at AT&T Park. 

Madison Bumgarner came off the bench and lined a single to left in the bottom of the 12th, giving the Giants a 5-4 walk-off win over the Padres. Gorkys Hernandez led off the bottom of the 12th with a triple and Bumgarner ended the night soon after. He then denied a Gatorade bath, effortlessly pushing Alen Hanson away. 

The night featured a couple of the second half's best moments, including a throwback to 2014. In the seventh inning, Gregor Blanco hit a two-run double, driving in Joe Panik and Hunter Pence to turn a deficit into a lead. Pence jumped up and screamed as he slid across the plate. Blanco emphatically clapped his hands at second base. It was a fun moment in a season lacking too many of them, and it brought a small crowd to life at AT&T Park. 

The vibes wouldn't last long. Will Smith blew the save in the top of the ninth, and on it went.  

—- Chris Stratton had some serious command issues and lasted just 4 2/3 innings in his final start of the year. Stratton gave up six hits and three runs while walking five. He got off to a great start this year and had another solid run in late August and early September, but he’ll end the year with a 4.85 ERA. 

—- Pence crushed a low slider into the left field seats in the fifth to get the Giants within a run. The ball had an exit velocity of 102 mph. He earlier hit one 108 mph. Dude is still strong.

Hunter Pence is making sure his Giants' tenure ends with a bang

Hunter Pence is making sure his Giants' tenure ends with a bang

This is almost assuredly outfielder Hunter Pence's final week with the Giants. His five-year, $90 million contract expires following Sunday's game. The Giants are set to move on. There's no guarantee that Pence will even play next season.

Either way, Pence is making sure he leaves a lasting impression on Giants fans.

On Monday, Pence went 2-for-4 and raised his average from .219 to .224. On Tuesday, Pence kept his hot streak going with a solo home run in the fourth, his fourth of the season. In the seventh, Pence followed a Joe Panik single with a single of his own. Then he raced around from first and scored the go-ahead run on Gregor Blanco's double.

After Tuesday's game, Pence has four more games to remind Giants fans of his glory days.