Giants

Cain: 'I’m getting to where I need to get'

Cain: 'I’m getting to where I need to get'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A month into spring training, it’s still somewhat difficult to get a read on what the Giants need to see from Matt Cain. Team officials continue to view Cain as the frontrunner for the fifth starter job, but they insist that Cain needs to earn it down here in the desert. 

What exactly does that mean when Cain takes the mound? On Friday, you could see both sides of the argument on pretty much a hitter-by-hitter basis. 

At times Cain was good, with his velocity sitting in the now-normal 91 mph range and his secondary pitches generating swings and misses. He struck out five in his final three innings, twice getting talented young Rockies shortstop Trevor Story and once whiffing DJ LeMahieu, the league’s reigning batting champ. 

But when all was said and done, Cain walked off the mound having allowed nine hits and three runs in 4 2/3 innings. His spring ERA dropped a bit, but it’s still 8.40 in five starts. In 15 innings, he has given up 25 hits.

“I’m throwing the ball where I want to,” Cain said. “It feels good coming out. I know that I’m progressing from start to start and I know I’m getting to where I need to get for the season to start. That’s something that’s not bothering me. It’s keep doing that. I think I can do a better job of (when you) get two outs, put away the inning. And also do a better job of putting guys away when I get two strikes.”

The third inning showed the inconsistency that has plagued Cain all spring. After giving up two runs in the second, he opened the third by striking out LeMahieu and then getting Story with a good slider. But minor leaguer Jordan Patterson singled and Stephen Cardullo drove an RBI double into the gap. Cain then froze Pat Valaika for his third strikeout of the inning. 

“That’s going to happen,” Cain said. “Even in that situation, I made a pitch to Patterson that I wanted to make and he did a good job of putting a swing on it. The same thing to Cardullo — he hit a changeup that wasn’t a bad pitch, and he did a good job, where a lot of guys hit that ball to shortstop. Those guys are obviously doing a good job as well. You can’t sit there and try to nitpick — you get two outs, striking guys out, you want to finish the inning, but it’s not always going to be that way. You’d love for it to always be that way but it doesn’t work that way.”

While Cain has yet to get optimum results, he has found a huge positive in the days between outings. Cain is finally healthy, and that has allowed him to tinker in the bullpen instead of worrying about how his arm will respond. He said he is trying to get a little bit more creative in how he attacks hitters, with one example being taking a few ticks off his slider to try and miss more barrels.

“I’m able to fine-tune things,” he said. “Before I wasn’t doing that. I was just trying to get through a bullpen (session) or get through starts. I was just trying to go out there and compete, but it wasn’t what I wanted to be able to do physically and mentally.”

Giants start off quick, but Phillies rough up Blach to power past San Francisco

Giants start off quick, but Phillies rough up Blach to power past San Francisco

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ty Kelly doesn't play much, but he's learned to make the most of his opportunities.

"He's my secret weapon," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

Mackanin summoned him at the most opportune of times on Saturday night, and Kelly delivered.

Kelly had a pinch-hit grand slam, Rhys Hoskins hit a three-run homer and Philadelphia snapped a six-game losing streak, beating the San Francisco Giants 12-9.

"I take anything positive, but that was pretty amazing," Kelly said.

Down 12-4, the Giants scored five times in the ninth inning and brought the tying run to the plate before Hector Neris struck out Carlos Moncrief for his 14th save.

Adam Morgan (1-1) threw just one pitch and got the win.

Kelly batted for Morgan and hit a slam off Cory Gearrin that capped a seven-run burst in the sixth inning for an 11-4 lead. He has 14 RBIs on 14 hits this year.

"The one thing he does is he doesn't overswing," Mackanin said. "He doesn't try to do too much and he's got some quickness in his bat. If you make a mistake like they did tonight, he doesn't try to overpower, he just tries to put the head on it and that's what he did tonight."

Denard Span became the first Giants player to lead off with an inside-the-park home run in 72 years. The last Giant to do it was Johnny Rucker on June 20, 1945, when the team played in New York and was at the Polo Grounds against the Boston Braves, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Ty Blach (8-9) took the loss.

Cameron Rupp homered and doubled, and Freddy Galvis had three hits for the Phillies.

Rupp doubled off Blach with one out to start the sixth, with Span losing the high flyball to center field. The ball landed in front of him.

"He lost it. He never saw it in the twilight," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "The ball is tough to pick up at that time of the night."

Giants star Buster Posey was 1 for 4, extending his hitting streak against the Phillies to 21 games going back to 2014.

HOMETOWN HERO:
Hoskins homered for the fourth time in seven games. Since going hitless in his first 12 at-bats after being called up from Triple-A, the rookie is 7 for 21 with four home runs in seven games.

His power surge has coincided with his team making a trip to the Bay Area, near where he grew up in the Sacramento area. He had about 35 to 40 friends and relatives at Saturday's game.

"I grew up a Giants fan, to play in this ballpark is pretty special," Hoskins said. "It's something that I dreamt of, especially to get a win the way we did tonight is pretty cool."

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Phillies: RHP Zach Eflin's status for his next turn in the rotation is uncertain after the 23-year-old reported tightness in right shoulder, Mackanin said. ... RHP Ben Lively is with the team and will be activated before Sunday's game to start the series finale, Mackanin said. Lively will take the roster spot of outfielder Odubel Herrera, who on Friday was placed on the disabled list with a hamstring injury (retroactive to Aug. 15). Lively will take RHP Mark Leiter's spot in the rotation in a move that sends Leiter to the bullpen.

Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto will pitch in a rehab assignment for Triple-A Sacramento on Monday and likely make one more rehab start before being activated, manager Bruce Bochy said. Cueto has been on the disabled list since July 15 with blisters on his right hand. He will throw 50 to 60 pitches on Monday, Bochy said.

UP NEXT:
Phillies: Lively (1-4, 3.80 ERA) recorded his lone career win against the Giants on June 3, when he gave up one run in seven innings of four-hit ball. Lively was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on pitch in the majors for the first time since July 5.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (3-5, 2.99) is 4-3 with a 3.60 ERA in nine career starts against the Phillies. He was 0-1 with a 5.56 ERA in two starts against the Phillies last season.

Giants lineup: After 10 runs vs Phillies, Bochy sticks with his guys

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USATSI

Giants lineup: After 10 runs vs Phillies, Bochy sticks with his guys

The Giants scored early and often Friday night, giving Bruce Bochy no reason to switch anything up Saturday in San Francisco.

Philadelphia Phillies (43-77)

1. Cesar Hernandez (S) 2B
2. Freddy Galvis (S) SS
3. Nick Williams (L) CF
4. Rhys Hoskins (R) LF
5. Maikel Franco (R) 3B
6. Jorge Alfaro (R) 1B
7. Cameron Rupp (R) C
8. Cameron Perkins (R) RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff (R) P

San Francisco Giants (50-74)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Hunter Pence (R) RF
3. Jarrett Parker (L) LF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 1B
8. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
9. Ty Blach (R) P