Cain gives back fair value on near-perfect afternoon


Cain gives back fair value on near-perfect afternoon

SAN FRANCISCO Matt Cain thought for a moment on thequestion, even if he knew the answer.

Yes, he would dwell a bit on that one slapped single thatPittsburgh Pirates pitcher James McDonald coaxed through the left side. Hedreplay that outside fastball in his mind a time or two before hitting thepillow.

Its something Ive always wanted to do, throughout highschool and Little League, Cain said.

Wait. Cain has never thrown a no-hitter? Not even againstCollierville High or Dyer County? Not against a bunch of Tennessee 10-year-oldschasing butterflies in the outfield?

Nope, Cain said. Never had one.

Once again, Cain nearly had it -- and so much more. In frontof a sellout crowd on a surprisingly resplendent Friday afternoon, he retired27 of 28 batters. McDonald was his only baserunner. That streaking single wasthe only blemish on what wouldve been the 21st perfect game inmajor league history.

In 129 years, no Giant has thrown one.

Yeah, youll think about it, that you gave up one hit,said Cain, who owns one-hitters over the As (in 2006) and Diamondbacks (in10). But its a win and you take it.

Yes, everyone will. Theyll take Cains 11-strikeout,no-walk dominance. Theyll take Buster Posey turning a poignant reunion into alove fest with his RBI double off the wall. Theyll take Aubrey Huffs homerinto the arcade and another multi-hit game from Melky Cabrera, too.

Theyll take it all in the Giants 5-0 victory.
RECAP: Cain brilliant in Giants' home-opening win

Mostly, though, theyll take their grounded right-hander withthe Tennessee roots, who didnt sit well with the way he loosened the leash inhis previous start against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

So he stared down the Pirates with choke-chain stuff.

Weve all seen him locked in, said Giants manager BruceBochy, of his right-handed ace with the perfect postseason ERA. Thats as goodas hes been.

Bochy said he knew from the first inning. So did Posey, eventhough he let Hector Sanchez warm up Cain in the bullpen. Most players willplay coy with something as fickle as a perfect game. Theyll say they werentthinking about it or it didnt occur to them.

Posey was honest. He had it in his mind very, very early.

Yeah, I was pretty aware of it, Posey said. He wasthrowing so good, you thought he had a shot.

Cain wasnt just setting down the Pirates in order throughthe first 17 hitters. He was blowing them away. Through the first six innings,he generated 18 swings and misses eight on his fastball, eight on hischangeup and two on his slider.

The changeup made all the difference. Its the pitch thatturned Cain from a young thrower into a true artist. Its the reason the Giantshad no buyers remorse after handing him a five-year, 112.5 million extensiontwo weeks ago.

Its a pitch that Cain couldnt handle until he startedplaying catch with Jason Schmidt during the 2006 season.

You know, I think its just a confidence thing, Cain toldme. I always wanted to find a way to throw a changeup. All through the minorleagues, I tried a lot of different things. It just never felt comfortable.Then Schmitty showed me a grip that I liked and I ran with it. Its a two-seamgrip, just getting your two middle fingers to sit right on those seams.

It wasnt an instant discovery. As Cain wryly noted,Throwing it and trusting it are not the same thing.

Cain and Posey knew to trust it from the beginning againstthe Pirates desperately swinging lineup. First, he had to command his hard,darting fastball to set it up. He did, throwing it to all four quadrants of thezone.

He just does such a good job with his arm action, Poseytold me. Hes got deception. A good changeup always starts with that, but whenits got movement, thats when its a really great pitch.

And how was it moving?

Straight down, said Posey, with a sober edge.

Cain was speed-walking toward an intersection with history.The few pitches the Pirates put into play hard resulted in outs and a growing sense of fate. Angel Paganran down Casey McGehees deep drive to center field in the second inning.Shortstop Brandon Crawford made an even more remarkable play in the fourth, when Andrew McCutchen hit a jam shot thatskidded under Cains glove. Crawford made a barehand pickup and throw to nipthe fleet runner.

Crawford said he wasnt thinking about preserving theperfect game at the time. An inning or two later, he realized what hiscontribution might have meant.

Cain, entering his confrontation with McDonald with two outsin the sixth, said he was definitely aware of it. At a 2-1 (count), Imthrowing to the outer third of the plate and he put a good swing on it. He canhit and I knew that going in.

Undaunted, Cain retired the last 10 hitters in order. AfterCrawford scooped Alex Presleys grounder for the final out, Cain calmly pointedat Posey and gave him a quick tap on the back.

Then, he said, You start letting that check in and realizewhat happened. Its definitely exciting to be back in the city.

That city showered him with cheers once again. Cain willbe here to soak up many more ovations after signing his extension. He is raising a young family. He has the respect of his teammates, the admiration of his coaches and the devotion of a passionate fan base.

Hell get ninefigures. On Friday, he gave back fair value.

Cain hasnt thrown a perfect game, or a no-hitter. But otherthan that, he really does have it all.

Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League


Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League

After being selected in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants, catcher Aramis Garcia quickly opened eyes with his power. Garcia totaled 15 home runs between Rookie Ball and Short Season Single-A in only 28 games after the draft. 

The next year, Garcia equaled his 15 long balls and spent the majority of his first full pro season at High Single-A. He also improved overall as a hitter, raising his 2014 slash line of .225/.301/.343 to .264/.342/.431 in 2015. The next climb up the farm system ladder was set in place, until it was gone with an excruciating injury. 

Garcia's 2016 season was limited to 47 games played as he sustained a facial fracture in May while sliding into second base. In an attempt to break up a double play, Garcia took a knee to the face. The injury kept him out until the end of July.

When the chance to play in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions arose, Garcia jumped at the opportunity. 

"First thing I did was call my parents and let them know," Garcia told on Monday. "I was just really excited for getting the opportunity to play against guys who are extremely talented and obviously make up for reps, which are extremely important."

Garcia never did exactly find his rhythm after the injury and finished the season batting .257/.323/.340 with two homers in 41 games. In the first half, the 23-year-old hit .298/.359/.369 compared to a lowly .200/.273/.300 in the second half. 

The catcher known more for his offense than defense, is off to a slow start at the plate while facing some of the top prospects in baseball. Throuh six games, he has gone 3-for-17 at the plate, good for a .176 average. But, Garcia acknowledged he's focusing heavily on his defense in the AFL. 

"I feel like when somebody tries to steal on me, I tend to take it a little bit personally," he said. "It's definitely something I take pride in, something I work on hard every day. There's a little routine I do with receiving and footwork, things like that every day."

Behind the dish, Garcia caught 38 percent of base runners looking to swipe a bag on him last season. Through his three years in the minors, Garcia has erased 34 percent of base stealers and owns a .993 fielding percentage. 

Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series


Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series

World Series ace Jon Lester is all set to start Game 1 for the Chicago Cubs.

Lester will be fully rested when he pitches Tuesday night at Cleveland. Corey Kluber will start for the Indians.

The 32-year-old lefty is 2-0 in three starts during this postseason, with wins over the Giants and Dodgers in the NL playoffs. He was 19-5 during the regular season.

Lester is 3-0 in three starts in the World Series with a sparkling 0.43 ERA. He helped the Boston Red Sox win championships in 2007 and 2013.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon says Lester is "really, really in the moment" right now.


Indians ace Corey Kluber will start Game 1 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs.

Manager Terry Francona said Sunday that he will go with Kluber, an 18-ame winner during the regular season, in the opener on Tuesday night. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA in his first postseason.

Francona has right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin penciled in for Games 2 and 3, respectively. The order could change depending on how Bauer's injured right pinkie heals over the next few days.

Bauer's start in the AL Championship Series lasted less than one inning after his pinkie began bleeding against Toronto. He injured his finger when he sliced it open while repairing a drone.

Also, injured starter Danny Salazar could be available against the Cubs. Salazar hasn't pitched since Sept. 9 because of forearm tightness but he's made major progress in the past week and could be on the World Series roster.