ST. LOUIS – Matt Cain has thrown 9 2/3 innings against the Cardinals this season. He’s been stone cold perfect in eight of them.
But the other inning and change? Best avert your eyes.
Once again, the Cardinals bloomed like a sudden thunderstorm cell on Cain. And once again, they inflicted considerable damage.
They sent 12 men to the plate and pounded out nine hits in a seven-run third inning that Cain simply could not stop as the Giants lost 8-0 in the first game of a split doubleheader Saturday afternoon.
Starting pitching report
Cain’s start was eerily familiar to his home debut April 7, when the Cardinals went nine up, nine down before exploding on Cain in a nine-run fourth inning.
This time, Cain retired the side in the first two innings. Then the Cardinals hit just about everything he threw in the third. Cain only survived because pitcher Shelby Miller made two of the outs in the inning, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy was loathe to burn his bullpen in Game 1.
After the huge inning, Cain settled back down and threw three more dead calm, 1-2-3 innings.
In eight of Cain’s 9 2/3 innings against St. Louis, the Cardinals are 0-for-24 with nine strikeouts and no walks. In the other inning and change, the Cards are 16-for-19 with two walks and two sacrifices.
Those crazy numbers suggest it isn’t fatigue that is dogging Cain but mechanical issues – especially from the stretch, most likely.
The Cards were 1-for-16 against Cain from the windup Saturday, and 8-for-10 from the stretch. It’s hard to imagine that’s a coincidence, whether it meant Cain wasn’t able to get the ball where he wanted or he was tipping something.
Gonna see if we can dispatch with this in one paragraph: Daniel Descalso started the third inning with a double, Pete Kozma singled, Miller sacrificed … and then it just wouldn’t stop. Matt Carpenter singled, improving to 7-for-9 lifetime against Cain. Jon Jay singled. Matt Holliday struck out. Then Allen Craig and Matt Adams singled. Backup catcher Tony Cruz hit a two-run double. Descalso singled in another run, and Kozman followed with his second single of the inning. Finally, Miller struck out looking. (Not counting the sacrifice bunt, the Cards were 9 for 9 on balls in play in the inning – a sure way to make Cain’s BABIP soar.)
Cain (4-3) has a 5.45 ERA after 12 starts. No, this isn’t Olympic diving, where you drop the best and worst scores, but … in case you were curious, Cain would have a 3.59 ERA if you dropped out his two terrible innings against the Cards.
The other notable: Cain didn’t allow a home run. He had given up three homers in each of his previous three road starts.
George Kontos was warming up behind Cain in the third and probably would have relieved him if Miller had reached.
But Cain recovered and managed to save the bullpen. Jose Mijares and Kontos pitched the final two innings.
At the plate
Miller (6-3), a leading NL Rookie of the Year candidate, reduced his ERA to 1.82 while scattering six hits in seven shutout innings.
Bochy made his intentions clear when he removed second baseman Marco Scutaro in the fifth, perhaps saving his No.2 hitter for the night game. Bochy originally planned to have Scutaro rest in the back end of the doubleheader.
Bochy couldn’t do the same with Buster Posey, since the Giants no longer have a third catcher and even emergency backup Pablo Sandoval is out with a strained foot. The manager waited until the eighth to replace Posey with Guillermo Quiroz.
First baseman Brandon Belt made a leaping catch to take a double away from Adams in the second inning. Left fielder Gregor Blanco made a running catch of Holliday’s line drive in the fourth.
Brett Pill pinch-hit for Cain in the seventh and played two incident-free innings in left field.
The Cardinals announced 42,359 paid, but that was for tickets sold to see last night’s rainout. The stadium was three-quarters empty at first pitch.
The Giants and Cardinals complete their three-game series on Sunday. Chad Gaudin 0-1, 2.05 ERA) will make his first major league start since 2009. He’ll be opposed by rookie left-hander Tyler Lyons (2-0, 1.29). First pitch is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. PDT.
But first, there’s Game 2. It’s Madison Bumgarner (4-3, 3.13 ERA) vs. right-hander Adam Wainwright (7-3, 2.48). First pitch is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. PDT.