Kruk and Kuip: Giants can't score for Cain vs. Dodgers
Yasiel Puig took Matt Cain deep one at-bat after the Giants' veteran right-hander hit him with a pitch. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Brian Wilson received a mixed greeting in his return to AT&T Park. (AP)
SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants sure asked a sellout crowd at AT&T Park to endure a lot Tuesday night.
There was a Yasiel Puig home run and successive bat flip, a Matt Kemp home run and successively larger bat flip, and then suddenly there was Brian Wilson, on the wrong side of this rivalry, taking the mound wearing double-zero and being treated like one by the fans who once adored his zany antics.
There was no drama this time, Giants fans. Wilson carved through his three hitters to protect a lead in the eighth inning and the Dodgers bossed the Giants as division champs should in a 2-1 victory.
With just 10 pitches and two strikeouts, it was among the calmest innings that Wilson had ever pitched at Third and King.
Maybe the easiest thing to endure was another dead night from the Giants offense, which was limited to Tony Abreu’s home run – no bat flip added – against Hyun-Jin Ryu.
That’s the part Giants fans have become desensitized to seeing.
Starting pitching report
Matt Cain had allowed just eight home runs over his last 20 starts, successfully treating an epidemic of early-season salvos that caused so many of his starts in April and May to blow up.
In fact, he entered with 21 homers allowed – exactly the same amount he gave up last year.
But two home runs undid him, and they were probably to the two players he least wanted to take him deep. Puig flipped his bat after reaching out and driving an outside fastball over the center field wall in the fifth inning.
The homer came one at-bat after Cain, who doesn’t have much tolerance for bad behavior, plunked Puig in the kidney with a 1-1 pitch. Was it intentional or not? You be the judge.
The Dodgers were gleeful enough while striking back, though. Kemp led off the sixth by crushing a pitch into the left field seats, and his reaction was even more dramatic. He held his pose as he watched it before giving his bat a majestic toss.
Cain (8-10) had his moments too, though. Notably, he thought he had A.J. Ellis struck out on a 3-2 pitch but instead issued his third walk of the inning to load the bases. He came back to strike out Mark Ellis on a called cut fastball thrown to a perfect spot, ending the fourth inning.
And Cain broke character in the second inning when he laughed all the way back to the dugout. He fielded A.J. Ellis’ comebacker and threw to second base to start a 1-6-3 double play – the exact chance he blundered in his last start at Citi Field.
Cain’s season was uneven, and he won’t reach 200 innings. But he made a 30th start for the eighth consecutive season – the first Giant to do so since Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell in 1929-37.
We’ll see if Cain makes one more in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the San Diego Padres. If not, it ended with a classic Caining: a loss when he did enough to win.
Heath Hembree pitched around Kemp’s single and Buster Posey’s error in a scoreless eighth. Jean Machi didn’t let the one-run deficit widen in the ninth.
At the plate
The Giants couldn’t do much against Ryu (14-7) over his seven innings. They only advanced one runner into scoring position against him, and that was when Tony Abreu hit his second homer of the season in the fifth inning.
Ryu came out to start the eighth but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly made the move for Wilson once pinch hitter Brett Pill was announced. Although the boos more than drowned out the cheers, there were many folks who stood and applauded the one-time 2010 World Series hero, who forever will be a part of Giants lore – and will forever know the true identity of The Machine.
Once the move to the bullpen was made, Giants manager Bruce Bochy countered with Gregor Blanco. He fouled off 94-mph heat before striking out on a called slider. Angel Pagan flied out on the first pitch and Juan Perez was frozen by a 95 mph fastball as Wilson calmly walked off the mound to more boos amid some cheers.
Wilson has appeared three times against the Giants and hasn’t allowed a hit in 2 2/3 innings.
The Giants advanced the tying run into scoring position against Kenley Jansen in the ninth when Posey singled and pinch runner Francisco Peguero moved up on a wild pitch. But Hunter Pence swung through three fastballs and Pablo Sandoval couldn’t hold up on high heat. They were the only two at-bats of the game for the Giants with runners in scoring position.
The Giants already shut down Marco Scutaro and plan to do the same with Madison Bumgarner, but perhaps it’s Posey who is most in need of an early vacation.
Posey, whose slugging percentage has taken a 200-point tumble in the second half, looked lost at the plate yet again. And he even threw a dying quail to first base after blocking a third strike in the eighth, allowing A.J. Ellis to reach base on the error.
On the plus side, shortstop Ehire Adrianza drew a huge ovation after going deep into the hole and whipping a strong throw to throw out Puig by a step in the ninth.
The Giants announced 41,625 paid. There was a floating Delorean bumper-boating against the yachts in McCovey Cove. And you thought Jetpack Dude was weird.
The Giants and Dodgers continue their three-game series at AT&T Park on Wednesday. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (13-10, 3.55 ERA) will start for the Dodgers. The Giants had scheduled left-hander Madison Bumgarner, but Barry Zito might replace him.