Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 5, Pirates 0

April 13, 2012, 10:46 pm
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SAN FRANCISCO The way Matt Cain dominated in the Giants 5-0 home-opening victory Friday, you could say he was worth his weight in gold.

But youd be underselling him. Gold is valued at 1,650 an ounce and Cain is a country-strong 230 pounds. Thats only a shade over 6 million in bullion.

The Giants gave him roughly 18 times that amount when they locked up Cain t a five-year, 112.5 million extension. And there was no buyers remorse on what turned into a splendid, celebratory afternoon of baseball on the shores of McCovey Cove.

Cain threw a one-hitter for his fifth career shutout, he struck out 11 and was one ground-ball squeaker from accomplishing so much more.

Cain retired the first 17 Pittsburgh Pirates in order before pitcher James McDonald broke up his perfect game with two outs in the sixth inning. After McDonalds single snuck through the left side, Cain went right back to work from the stretch, retiring the next 10 hitters.

Buster Posey hit an RBI double off the wall in his first at-bat at AT&T Park since the terrible home-plate collision on May 25, and with Cain as unyielding as ever, the Giants fashioned their first winning streak of the season.

The Giants have two shutouts from their rotation in just seven games. No other major league team has so much as one.

Starting pitching report
Cain spotted his darting fastball for plenty of swings and misses but it was his changeup that had the Pirates really flailing in the box. In the first six innings, Cain generated a staggering 17 swing-throughs: on eight fastballs, eight changeups and one slider.

He started to mix his curveball the third time through the order, keeping the Pirates off balance.

He stayed sharp to the end -- unlike his season debut at Arizona, when Cain gave back five runs of a 6-0 lead in an eventual loss to the Diamondbacks. The 85th consecutive sellout crowd at AT&T Park came to its feet even before Cains third-strike slider froze Pedro Alvarez to end the eighth inning. The fans gave him a rousing cheer as he walked off the mound.

He threw 73 of 106 pitches for strikes and needed just 10 to retire the Pirates on a fly out and two grounders in the ninth. Alex Presley hit a roller to shortstop Brandon Crawford to end it.

Bullpen report
Guillermo Mota put on a uniform and everything, too.

At the plate
Posey was the star once again with his double, which followed an emotional, standing ovation as he dug into the box. But he wasnt the Giants only spear carrier.

Melky Cabrera has hit safely in all seven games as a Giant, and has multiple hits in five of them; he singled twice and scored from first base on Poseys double. Aubrey Huff followed with a single as Posey scored from second base on an aggressive send from coach Tim Flannery.

The Giants made it 3-0 when Pablo Sandoval doubled and scored on Nate Schierholtzs lawn-dart single in the sixth. Then in the eighth, Huff was able to loft a ball into the breeze, which was carrying out to right field for a change. His two-run shot scored Cabrera, who had singled in front of him.

The Giants are simply a better fastball-hitting team than a year ago, when they fielded a lineup of plodding, ground-ball machines. In the first four innings against McDonald, they made 10 outs in the air some on deep drives and none on the ground.
In the field
Shortstop Brandon Crawford momentarily protected Cains perfect game when he made a barehanded scoop and throw on Andrew McCutchens dribbler in the fourth. McCutchen is not slow, by the way.

The Giants announced 41,138. A sellout, and a happy bunch. Except for those 17 Pirates fans.

Up next
The Giants continue their series against Pittsburgh by sending Barry Zito (1-0, 0.00) to the mound. The left-hander is coming off a four-hit shutout at Colorado his first shutout since April 18, 2003 as a member of the Oakland As. The Pirates plan to activate right-hander Charlie Morton from the disabled list to oppose Zito. Morton had been sidelined because of offseason hip surgery.

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