Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 5, Pirates 0


Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 5, Pirates 0


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.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.


Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid


SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.