Cain perfect when it mattered most against Angels

796312.jpg

Cain perfect when it mattered most against Angels

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM Turns out Matt Cain wasnt so perfect last weekafter all.

He took a shot to the left wrist while gutting out a win inthe Giants 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, and whenreporters asked where the ball struck him, he pointed just below an ugly redwelt.

No, not that, Cain said. Thats a waffle burn.

A what?

Buster saw it and was, Jeez! Cain continued. I said no,thats a waffle burn. I was reaching for something else. I found out the waffleiron was on and its hot.

OK, fine. Cain can get a bit Affeldtian in the kitchen. Don't trust him to prepare your yolks just so on your Eggs Benedict.

But on the mound? Even on a night when he was far fromperfect, he still found a way to elevate his game at precisely the rightmoments.

Cain walked four and allowed six hits in five innings, yethe held a havoc-wreaking lineup to three runs. To accomplish that, he needed toexecute a pitch against career nemesis Albert Pujols with the bases loaded inthe fourth inning. He needed to make a play on a one-hop piece of shrapnel hitback to the mound. And he needed to fight to his very last pitch to coax hisway through the fifth.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy could tell from the outset thatCain didnt have it. Theright-hander had thrown 125 high-stress pitches in Wednesdays historic perfectgame the most ever thrown in a perfecto and he was giving it everything hehad in the ninth while hitting 94 mph on the last pitch.

Im sure he was feeling the residuals from his last start.He had to, Bochy said. Every pitch, its all on the line. I was justsurprised in this game, the gutty effort he gave us.

Oh, I knew early. He was missing spots. But he competes sowell.

Cain didnt cop to a perfect-game hangover or fatigue asmuch as a residual buzz from what hed accomplished.

I was probably a little amped up from it, maybe try to keepit going in a way, said Cain, who threw 100 pitches in five innings. I was alittle energized in general. The whole time I was pitching perhaps higher up ingeneral.

It was definitely a grind-it-out day. A lot of theirswitch-hitter guys were finding holes. I was working on keeping those guyssemi-close at first base. You just try to keep it all in order.

He did, barely. With the Giants clinging to a 4-3 lead,Shane Loux began warming up before Cain issued a leadoff walk to Kendry Moralesin the fifth. Then Cain went 3-0 to Mark Trumbo, who had hit a solo homerearlier in the game.

Hes a pitch away from coming out there, Bochy said. Ifhed have walked him, I wouldve gotten him.

But Cain darted two fastballs for a called strike and afoul. Then he froze Trumbo with a curveball. He retired the next two hitters toget the Giants back in the dugout.

Just like that, Cain qualified for the victory. The Giantsbullpen made sure he got it, too, by taking their own perfect turn. Loux,Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla went 12 up, 12 down.

Just like that, Cain became the first Giant to win eightconsecutive starts since Rick Big Daddy Reuschel in 1989.

Reuschel started the NL All-Star game that year. Cain is makinga case to draw the assignment for the NL this season, although the Mets R.A.Dickey has the league all aflutter with his knuckleball.

Cain wouldnt have won without winning a bases-loaded confrontationwith Pujols, who entered the game with serious career ownage against theright-hander. His first two curveballs missed, but he put a slider on Pujolshands for a foul ball. Then he might have gotten away with a 2-1 curve that gotmore of the plate than Cain wanted. Pujols grounded into a fielders choice.

He has that ability to make a pitch and not give in, Bochysaid. Hes got four pitches and hell throw any pitch at any time. The gameson the line there and he showed great poise. He got it done.

He also showed poise in the fourth after Angels rookiephenom Mike Trout hit his bullet back to the mound. Cain deflected it with hisglove hand, picked it up without hesitation and threw a firm one to BusterPosey for a tag play at the plate.

After the game, Cain dutifully took every question from thenational media about everything from his perfect game to his new Samurai swordto what on Gods sweet earth was going through his mind when he let Affeldthold it.

It might not surprise you, but he was most effusive whenasked about the bullpen.

I was pumped by those guys, coming in and finishing off thegame for me, Cain said. They got 1-2-3 innings when I wasnt able to do that.Its very helpful down the road. Its never good when you start a series andyour starter comes out after five innings.

Five imperfect innings. With the same, winning result.

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

Editor's Note: The above video was recorded following Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

Gregor Blanco's bid to make the Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster is over.

The former Giants outfielder was released on Monday, Arizona announced.

Blanco had been dealing with an oblique injury and had played since March 21.

In 14 Cactus League games, Blanco went 9-for-40 (.225) with one double and three triples.

Blanco spent five years with the Giants and was part of the World Series winning teams in 2012 and 2014. During his time in San Francisco, the 33-year-old hit .259/.338/.360 with 78 doubles, 24 triples and 157 RBI in 649 games.

The D'backs signed Blanco to a minor league deal in January.

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For the first time, Gorkys Hernandez did not go back to Venezuela in the offseason to play winter ball. He's hoping that leads to another first. 

Hernandez has never made an opening day roster, but after breaking into the Giants’ outfield rotation last season, he entered the winter in a decent shot. To bolster his case, Hernandez stayed in Scottsdale over the offseason to work out at the minor league facility. The added strength didn’t lead to any notable results over the first month of games, but Hernandez broke through Monday with three doubles in the final home game of the spring.

“Sometimes (slumps) happen and sometimes you’re late (on pitches) and you don’t feel comfortable at the plate, but now I feel different. I feel better,” Hernandez said. “I’m recognizing pitches and trying to keep it simple and not do too much.”

The coaching staff has asked several players to head down to the minor league facility late in the spring and get additional at-bats, and Hernandez took Bruce Bochy up on the offer. He twice played in minor league games, and on Sunday he rotated into different games so he could get six at-bats. Hernandez said that helped him find his timing. 

“Without question, it helped his timing,” Bochy said. “He was off. He was getting out front, his timing was off. I think the at-bats he got paid off.”

The three-double day was perfectly timed. Hernandez entered with a .159 average and Justin Ruggiano, the other option as a backup center fielder, had started to put together better at-bats. Monday’s game was a reminder in more ways than one. Hernandez showed off the type of speed the Giants won’t have on the bench if Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, and he played all three outfield positions, switching from left to right to center. 

The role in play is one Gregor Blanco had for five seasons. The Giants would like Hernandez to be their defensive whiz at every outfield spot, and they’re light on true center fielders. If the Giants put Hernandez on the roster this week as expected, he’ll be ready to try and be the new Blanco. 

“If they give me that role, I’ll try to do the same thing,” he said. “Or better.”

THE ACE: Madison Bumgarner is going to Madison Bumgarner. He threw seven sharp innings Monday, lowering his spring ERA to 2.52. In 25 innings, he has allowed just 17 hits and struck out 23. Bochy appreciated Bumgarner’s intensity Monday against a Reds team that was filled with minor leaguers. 

“That’s what makes him so good,” Bochy said. “He takes every outing seriously. His preparation doesn’t waver.”

Bumgarner even added a single, and he liked that it came on a breaking ball. He’s worked on getting better at hitting those pitches, which he’s seeing more and more. 

“I feel I’m as ready as I can be to start the season,” Bumgarner said. 

His next pitch will be thrown Sunday at Chase Field. 

GAME RECAP: The Giants blasted poor Reds starter Cody Reed, hanging 10 runs on his line in 3 2/3 innings. Denard Span had two hits and Aaron Hill had three, driving in three runs. Bochy went with an interesting lineup, leading off with Span, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. He said he likes Crawford in that five-spot. He also plans to hit the pitcher eighth on occasion.

TRAINER’S ROOM: Joe Panik was drilled by a fastball in the lower back and he came out of the game as a precaution. Panik has a nasty welt, so he’s in for a night of ice, but there are no concerns. 

QUOTABLE: Posey turned 30 today. As he walked out to stretch, Bumgarner was asked if he was giving Posey a hard time. “No, he’s been 30 for the last seven years,” Bumgarner said.