Cain: 'We've hit a funky patch and we need to get over it'
Jose Mijares allowed three earned runs in relief of Matt Cain Sunday, without recording an out. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Brandon Belt doubles to left center to drive in Marco Scutaro in the first inning on Sunday. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN FRANCISCO – All seemed right in the Giants’ world for six innings Sunday, with Matt Cain mowing hitters down and making his meager offensive support look like enough.
But things took a sour turn. Quickly.
J.J. Hardy stung Cain with a two-run homer in the seventh that put the Baltimore Orioles ahead, and the Giants’ bullpen caved from there. The result was a 10-2 Orioles rout, an abrupt turn of events for a game that seemed destined to be a nail-biter. The Giants took the field in good spirits following their 3-2 victory a day earlier. A win Sunday would have given them their first winning homestand since going 4-2 against Washington and Colorado from May 20-26. They instead turned a winnable game into a blowout loss.
Yes, the game turned on Hardy’s homer against Cain. But the Giants can’t expect to win at the paltry rate with which they’re scoring runs. They jumped on Orioles starter Bud Norris for two runs in the first, then didn’t cross home plate again.
Starting pitching report
Cain has looked like his old dominant self since the All-Star break, and for six-plus innings on Sunday, he continued that form. He retired 15 of his first 16 hitters, and Baltimore didn’t advance a runner past first base until Brian Roberts’ triple to lead off the sixth. The Orioles cut their deficit to 2-1 on Nate McLouth’s RBI single, but Cain avoided further damage that inning with strikeouts of Manny Machado and cleanup hitter Adam Jones.
Trouble hit in the seventh, however. Chris Davis pounded a double off the center field wall to lead off the inning. Two batters later, Buster Posey called for a fastball outside, but Cain missed high and over the plate with a 90 mph offering. Hardy deposited it over the left field wall for a two-run homer and a 3-2 Oriole lead.
It was a bitter turn of events for Cain, who nonetheless delivered his fourth straight quality start. In five outings since the All-Star break, he has fashioned a 2.38 ERA (9 ER in 34 IP). His slider had good snap on it Sunday and he spotted his fastball well, ringing up strikeouts with both pitches. Stuff like that should result in a ‘W’, but the way the Giants are hitting these days, their pitchers operate with little room for error. Cain was good, but far from perfect.
It was a 3-2 game until things unraveled for the Giants’ relief corps in the eighth. Jose Mijares issued a leadoff walk to McLouth, then made a throwing error to first on Manny Machado’s bunt, setting the table for a big rally. Nick Markakis singled up the middle to score McLouth, and Mijares was yanked in favor of Sandy Rosario, who didn’t fare much better. Jones doubled down the right field line to bring another run home, Matt Wieters delivered an RBI single and Roberts’ sacrifice fly made it 7-2. The sight of Barry Zito taking the mound for mop-up duty in the ninth? Just bizarre. And the lefty wasn’t immune to the bullpen blues, serving up Adam Jones’ three-run homer that made it a true laugher.
At the plate
Marco Scutaro led off the bottom of the first with a single and came around to score on Brandon Belt’s double. Hunter Pence delivered a double of his own to score Belt. Encouraging stuff, right? The Giants hitters appeared quite satisfied with their quick start. They went down quietly after that, advancing just one runner as far as third base from the second inning on. They scraped together just seven hits total, and they haven’t scored more than four runs in any of their past 11 games. Buster Posey continues to struggle. He went 0 for 4 and is now 10 for 62 (.161) over his past 19 games.
In the field
Nothing particularly noteworthy on the Giants’ end, although Mijares’ error – on which he rushed a throw to first after fielding Machado’s bunt – was costly.
A crowd of 41,622 showed up to AT&T Park. At least they saw a team in orange and black get the victory.
The Giants embark on a six-game road trip to Washington and Miami that begins Tuesday. Madison Bumgarner (11-7, 2.75) and Gio Gonzalez (7-5, 3.52) square off in Tuesday’s 4:05 p.m. opener from Nationals Park. Tim Lincecum (6-11, 4.18) takes on Jordan Zimmerman (13-6, 3.06) on Wednesday at 4:05 p.m., and Ryan Vogelsong (2-4, 6.71) opposes Dan Haren (7-11, 4.99) in Thursday’s 1:05 p.m. finale.