DENVER — Three days at Coors Field left the Giants with some new positives, namely Jeff Samardzija’s brilliant start and the way the ball was coming out of Matt Cain’s hand. Three days at Coors Field also left the Giants with two losses, including a very ugly one Thursday.
Matt Cain and Chris Heston combined to give up nine runs in the fifth inning as the Giants fell 11-6 to the Rockies. The nine-run inning was the first for Giants pitchers in three years, and multiple comeback attempts came up short in the late innings.
Cain looked like his old self early, getting four strikeouts the first time through the order. Trevor Story, Gerardo Parra and Ben Paulsen went down on sliders and Mark Reynolds swung through 93 mph. The day was going so well — until a poorly placed slider that Gerardo Parra jerked to right for a game-tying solo shot in the fifth. The wheels promptly came off.
Cain had a 10-pitch battle with backup catcher Tony Wolters that ended with a deflating bloop single. Pitcher Jorge De La Rosa followed with his own bloop to right, scoring two runs. DJ LeMahieu hit a liner to deep right that Hunter Pence couldn’t reach and Cain walked Carlos Gonzalez to load the bases for Nolan Arenado. That was it, and Chris Heston didn’t fare well while pitching on zero days rest for the first time.
Heston threw a wicked curveball that had Arenado swinging so hard he went down to a knee, but he doubled up on the pitch and Arenado blasted it off the left field wall. Two batters later, Reynolds hit a three-run double to center. He would come around on a single to left.
The Giants semi-duplicated the fifth in the top of the seventh, getting three runs back and loading the bases on three singles, including a liner off the pitcher and a bloop to left. Buster Posey came up in the Arenado role, but he grounded out to third.
The Giants scored two in the eighth on Brandon Belt’s homer, but the rally died shortly thereafter.
Starting pitching report: Cain took a step forward, but the box score didn’t reflect it. He was charged with six runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings. The nine-run inning was the first against the Giants since April 7, 2013. That was also a Cain start.
Bullpen report: Heston pitched back-to-back for the first time, an important test in his transition to the bullpen. He gave up three runs in 1 1/3 innings.
At the plate: Belt smoked the ball four times, twice lining into outs (including a double play).
In the field: Arenado’s fourth inning probably won’t make any highlight reels, but it was one of the more remarkable low-key defensive shows you’ll see. Hunter Pence hit a hard chopper down the line with two runners on and the third baseman scooped it, chased the runner back to third, and then made a perfect off-balance throw to easily get Pence at first. Matt Duffy hit a slow roller toward short with two outs and Arenado avoided Posey, the runner on second, barehanded the ball and threw another strike to first. There isn’t a better defensive player in baseball.
Up next: Three at Dodger Stadium, starting with a rematch of Bumgarner vs. Kershaw.