Giants' Cain in midseason form after two spring starts

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Giants' Cain in midseason form after two spring starts

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Almost one year ago, Matt Cain pitched threeinnings in a simulated game, his first action since missing a spring start withelbow problems.On Friday in Scottsdale, Cain threw three innings that werefar from simulated, allowing no runs and striking out four Reds. He allowedthree hits and hit a batter in his brief outing. The Giants projected No. 3starter has a perfect 0.00 ERA through his first two spring starts.Besides working an extra inning in his second appearance,Cain also had a new battery mate in Buster Posey, who made a two-inning springdebut Friday.The pair received quite an ovation as they walked to thebullpen before the game.I thought everyone really loved me, Cain said. Then Ilooked behind me and saw Buster."

While Posey may garner more fan attention, Cain is quietlysetting up to do what he does best: 200 innings pitched and an ERA you cancount on.I felt good today, Cain said. I felt like I had a goodrhythm. I just have to remember that and take it into the next bullpen sessionand keep carrying that over into the season.Coming off a full-season career-low 2.88 ERA in 2011, Cainis looking for a repeat performance in what may be his final year as a Giant.With no news on a potential contract extension, Cain couldbecome a free agent after this season if the Giants cant reach an agreementwith their big right-hander by the end of spring training.But it appears Cain is staying focused on his performance,not his paycheck, and its working. All of Cains pitches, but especially the curveball, were inmidseason form as he worked through the Reds lineup and his manager tooknotice. Cains looked great, Bruce Bochy said. Hes in tremendousshape. Hes throwing the ball well. Solid effort every time he hits the mound,whether its a bullpen or facing hitters. Hes so consistent thats what youlove about him.

Giants lineup: Belt in left, Posey at first in finale against Rockies

Giants lineup: Belt in left, Posey at first in finale against Rockies

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The banged-up Giants are shifting things around as Brandon Belt will patrol left field and Buster Posey will play first base Sunday.

San Francisco Giants:
1. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
2. Brandon Belt (L) LF
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Nick Hundley (R) C
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P

Colorado Rockies:
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. Carlos Gonzalez (L) RF
5. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
6. Gerardo Parra (L) LF
7. Trevor Story (R) SS
8. Tony Wolters (L) C
9. Kyle Freeland (L) P

 

After another loss, Bochy challenges staff to 'tighten it up here'

After another loss, Bochy challenges staff to 'tighten it up here'

DENVER — For the second straight start, Matt Moore watched an outfielder chase down a rocket, slam into the wall, and immediately leave the game with a hurt shoulder. 

“You’ve got to feel a little responsible,” he said Saturday night, shaking his head. 

That’s not entirely fair. The Jarrett Parker and Denard Span injuries have been flukes, but there is a different kind of responsibility for the starting staff. Bobby Evans built this team on the starting five, and through three weeks, the group has been a letdown. 

Madison Bumgarner was hurt during an off-field incident. Johnny Cueto has an uncharacteristic 5.25 ERA and 1.38 WHIP through four starts. Moore gave up six runs in four innings Saturday, raising his own ERA to 5.87. On the other side, a rookie — Antonio Senzatela — held the Giants to four hits, leading the Rockies to a 12-3 win.

“He just made mistakes. You saw them,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Moore. “They caught too much of the plate and they were up and they took advantage of them. This can be a tough park but they pitched well tonight with a young kid. You’ve got to make your pitches. Keep concentrating and don’t give in. That’s the way it works and we’re not doing a very good job of that.

“Obviously our staff, we’re a much better staff than what’s happened. We’ve got to tighten it up here and wake up. We’re not a team that goes out and pounds it with you. We’ve got to pitch.”

The starting staff, even without Bumgarner, is more important than it first seemed. That's because the rest of the Giants are dropping, too. Span went out in the third when he slammed into the wall while making a catch, and while the initial read is positive, he was going for X-rays Saturday night. At the very least, a right shoulder sprain will keep him out a couple of days. 

That means Bochy, 18 games in, is dealing with one of his Bomb Squad situations. Buster Posey will play first on Sunday after a couple of long days in the squat, and it’s possible Brandon Belt will get a day in left. Gorkys Hernandez, hitting just .088, is the man in center while Span is out. Hunter Pence (knee bruise) is expected to return to right field Sunday, but the outfield is hanging by a string. The Giants have even talked about putting Eduardo Nuñez in left, and on Saturday he played several innings in right because of the Span injury. 

Bochy challenged his starters, but the regulars behind them will need to be better, too. The bats didn’t get going until the eighth inning at Coors Field, and even then, a rally was cut short and the Giants promptly gave up six more runs. Nuñez was late getting over on a pop-up that clanked off Joe Panik’s glove and extended the inning. 

“You’re going to deal with that,” Bochy said. “He’s going to feel discombobulated.”

Bochy had just one positive to point to, and he lit up when asked about Chris Stratton, who threw three hitless innings to keep the Giants within shouting distance. 

“Boy, that kid did a nice job," he said. 

Stratton isn’t far down the depth chart if there are further injuries in the rotation, and with a fastball that touched 95, he looked better than he has in years. The Giants hope they don’t need to test him. They’re banged-up, but at the moment, they still have four of their projected starting pitcher, along with Ty Blach. Without Bumgarner, the group will have to be better, and Bochy let them know it Saturday.