Baggs' Instant Replay: Cardinals 8, Giants 2


Baggs' Instant Replay: Cardinals 8, Giants 2


ST. LOUIS Matt Cain isnt perfect any longer. Far from it.

The Giants right-hander couldnt reward manager Bruce Bochys faith and escape the sixth inning Monday night. He labored while giving up five runs in 5 23 innings to a hot Cardinals lineup, as pinch hitter Matt Carpenter breached the hull with a two-out, bases-loaded single, and the Giants lost 8-2 at Busch Stadium.

Cain is officially in a slump -- especially on the road, where he has served up six home runs in his last three starts.

The Giants were 10-3 in Cains first 13 outings, culminating with his perfect game on June 13. They are 3-6 in his nine starts since the 125-pitch perfecto, and hes 2-3 with a rather pedestrian 4.40 ERA over that span.

He has allowed 10 home runs over those nine starts.

Cain gave up just nine home runs all of last season.

Starting pitching report
Carlos Beltran hit the 17th homer off Cain in 2012, going deep for his 26th of the season to start the second inning. The Cardinals set themselves up for another run when David Freese walked and took third on Jon Jays single. Rafael Furcal worked Cain for a 10-pitch at-bat that ended when he served a slider up the middle for an RBI single.

Cain retired 10 of the next 11 hitters and the Giants tied it on Buster Poseys home run in the sixth.

But Cain ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth when Matt Holliday roped a leadoff double. Beltran followed with a deep fly ball and Holliday tagged up, barely sliding ahead of the tag at third base despite a remarkably strong throw from Angel Pagan in center field. Freese followed with a tiebreaking sacrifice fly.

With two outs and the bases empty, Cain couldnt get his team back into the dugout with a one-run deficit. Yadier Molina and Jay both singled on changeups and Furcal worked Cain hard again while drawing a walk to load the bases.

Cain was at 111 pitches, but with George Kontos good and warm, manager Bruce Bochy decided to stay with his decorated right-hander. Pinch hitter Matt Carpenter, who was 3 for 3 off Cain, made it 4 for 4 when the left-handed hitter reached out and lined a 1-2 fastball to left field. The two-run single sent Cain to the dugout trailing 5-2.

Bullpen report
Shane Loux picked a bad time to burp up a three-run eighth inning. Loux could be transformed into a full-figured Venezuelan left-hander as early as today. The Giants will have to create a 25-man roster vacancy to add Jose Mijares, whom the Giants were awarded on a waiver claim from the Kansas City Royals.

At the plate
Angel Pagan hit his second leadoff home run of the season and the fourth of his career, but the Giants didnt score again off sinkerballer Jake Westbrook until Buster Posey parked one in the sixth.

Poseys home run was his fourth in five games; hes homered in each of his last four starts at catcher.

The Giants failed to execute in the fourth, though, when Melky Cabrera (who collected his major league best 150th and 151st hits) hit a leadoff single and Posey followed with another. Hunter Pence flied out to shallow left field, Marco Scutaro tapped out to the mound and Brandon Belt grounded out to second base to strand two runners in scoring position.

In field
In the seventh inning, Shane Loux had Carlos Beltran picked off first base with runners at the corners. Loux smartly held onto the ball to make Beltran commit, which is all fine and good -- unless the pitcher proceeds to throw to the wrong base. Loux fired to second as Betran easily retreated to first.

The Cardinals announced 38,652 paid on a less than entirely insufferable night at Busch Stadium in August. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies sellout streak ended after 257 games an NL record. Thus, the Giants hold the longest current sellout streak by an NL club, at 139 games.

Up next
The Giants continue their four-game series at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night. Barry Zito (8-8, 4.27) is 0-3 with an 11.35 ERA in three starts at Busch Stadium. He faces right-hander Lance Lynn (13-4, 3.40), who is getting the best average run support of any NL pitcher.

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco … 


Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Aaron Hill didn't play in the final Cactus League game, but he didn't need to. By simply being on the flight to San Francisco on Tuesday, Hill got good news. 

The veteran infielder was due a $100,000 bonus on Tuesday, and while the Giants haven't formally announced their roster, you don't pay a man that much money to come play three exhibition games against the A's. Hill appears to have made this club as a second backup infielder, along with Conor Gillaspie. Another veteran, Jimmy Rollins, got the news that the Giants are headed in a different direction. 

Team officials spoke with Rollins this week about their future plans. He was not on the travel roster Tuesday and did not attend the game against the Cubs. 

"We're waiting to hear back from him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He knows the scenario and the situation. We're waiting to hear back."

Rollins, 38, showed the Giants that he can still handle shortstop defensively, and he was a quick learner when he moved to second. But he hit just .119, falling behind Hill, Kelby Tomlinson and others in the mix for bench spots. It would seem unlikely that Rollins would want to get additional at-bats in Triple-A, but that feeling hadn't been fully conveyed to team officials Tuesday. There was a hope that Rollins, an East Bay native, might join the team for the Bay Bridge Series, which finishes Saturday in Oakland. Rollins grew up an A's fan.

Rollins and Hill were part of a crowded infield group at the start of camp. Gordon Beckham also had a retention bonus and he asked to be released when he was told he wouldn't make the opening day roster. David Hernandez, the third player due a bonus, also was released. He promptly signed with the Atlanta Braves.