Bochy on Cain possibly tipping pitches: 'We've looked into it'
“I made a good bit of mistakes, a lot of pitches over the plate. I just made a lot of bad pitches.” -- Matt Cain (USA TODAY IMAGES)
ST. LOUIS – Matt Cain has dominated the Cardinals … from the windup.
They are just 2 for 26 against him over two starts. That’s a .077 average. No walks, either.
From the stretch, though?
“We’re buffaloed by it, to be honest,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, using his favorite euphemism for a head scratcher after his club lost 8-0 in Game 1 of a doubleheader Saturday at Busch Stadium.
Cain fenced in the herd in five of his six innings. But in the third, did the gate ever swing open. The Cardinals trampled him for seven runs on nine hits.
Over his two starts, the Cardinals are 14 for 17 with two walks against Cain from the stretch. It’s hard to imagine any team being 14 for 17 against a pitcher in any circumstance, unless a half-dozen of his fielders decided to take a smoke break underneath the bleachers.
Bad luck, and BABIP, has to be part of it – both in Saturday’s seven-run inning as well as the nine-run fourth they scored off Cain back on April 7 at AT&T Park.
But only one part.
“For that to happen against the same club twice, that’s hard to do,” Bochy said. “We just couldn’t get a ball hit at anybody.”
These two huge innings are more than peculiar – especially when you remember that the Cardinals’ manager, Mike Matheny, was Cain’s first catcher in the big leagues.
And when you remember that the Cards’ assistant hitting coach, Bengie Molina, has caught Cain more often (622 2/3 of his 1,611 major league innings) than anyone.
Is Cain tipping his pitches?
“Well sure, we’ve looked into that,” said Bochy, who immediately went over Cain’s outing with pitching coach Dave Righetti. “It’s something you look at when it happens in the stretch. We’ll continue to look at it. More than anything, he had trouble getting the ball where he wanted in the stretch.”
That’s what Cain said he saw when he looked at video.
“I made a good bit of mistakes, a lot of pitches over the plate,” said Cain, who was even more laconic than usual when meeting with reporters. “I just made a lot of bad pitches.”
Cain said he felt fine out of the stretch and he didn’t think he was giving anything away. He said he might try a little more to simulate situations with runners on base in his next bullpen session. But other than that, he didn’t plan to prepare any differently for his next outing.
He acknowledged it was tough to digest what happened immediately after throwing five perfect innings and one massively imperfect one.
“It is,” he said. “You’ve just got to go back and look at what happened and move on. You’ll have outings like that. You’ve got to get over it.”
Not that the Cardinals would admit anything, but Matheny said there wasn’t any connection to the club’s success against Cain and their familiarity with him.
“I’ve told you guys before how much respect I have for Matt,” Matheny said. “He’s one of the top pitchers in our league. Just a pro. He goes about it the right way. We know that you’ve got to put an inning together when you can. Fortunately, we had one inning where we can. … I don’t think you’ll see it again with him.
“After I watched him in the first two innings, my comment to the bench coach and the other coaches was he has his good stuff today. We’re going to have try and figure out a way to get something against him. He was locating his fastball well. He was locating his breaking ball too. That’s usually a long night for us.”
It still could be a long night, with another game to play. Bochy confirmed that he pulled Marco Scutaro off the field in the fifth inning so he could start him at second base in the night game. Bochy originally had planned for Nick Noonan to start at second base.
Bochy couldn’t do the same with Buster Posey because he had only one backup catcher, and even emergency third-stringer Pablo Sandoval is unavailable because of a foot strain. Bochy couldn’t afford the risk of putting Guillermo Quiroz in the game too early when an injury would’ve led to calamity.
Quiroz did come in for Posey in the eighth, but the Giants’ cleanup hitter and reigning NL MVP won’t start the night game. Bochy said he wants Posey in the lineup Sunday afternoon to catch spot starter Chad Gaudin.
Although Cain’s bizarre outing was the story of Game 1, the Giants will have to put together better at-bats against Adam Wainwright in Game 2.
They’ll have time over the next few days to look back on Cain’s start, and digest the fact that their ace has a 5.45 ERA after 12 starts (It’s 3.59 if you take out the Cardinals’ two big innings against him.)
Now isn’t the time to delve too deeply, though, with another game to play.
“I wish I could explain it,” Bochy said. “We’re having a hard time with it, with how well he threw. Once he got in the stretch, they threw out some good at-bats. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen because he had good stuff.”
The Cardinals' Nos. 2-5 hitters all rested in Game 1. Meanwhile, the Giants do some tweaking in a rare game when both Sandoval and Posey, their two leading RBI men, are not starting.
Here are the lineups:
CF Jay, C Molina, RF Beltran, 3B Freese, 1B Wigginton, 2B Descalso, LF Robinson, SS Kozma, P Wainwright
CF Blanco, SS Crawford, 2B Scutaro, RF Pence, LF Belt, LF Torres, 3B Arias, C Quiroz, P Bumgarner