SAN FRANCISCO — There was a different buzz at AT&T Park on Monday night, which was expected. The Dodgers always bring the most energy out of the fan base and the surprise promotion of the organization’s top prospect added a little sizzle.
For six innings, Matt Cain made sure the good vibes didn’t go to waste. By the seventh, he was dealing with his own set of problems.
Cain dominated the Dodgers but he was removed by trainer Anthony Reyes after throwing warm-up pitches in the top of the seventh. There was no immediate word on his condition. The Giants went on to win the opener of this four-game series 2-1, wrapping up a well-earned victory for their longest-tenured player.
Cain has been looking for consistency for three years. When he was on the mound Monday, he was able to carry over the strides he made in his two previous starts. Cain sailed through six, allowing just two singles and a walk.
He benefited from sparkling defense on the infield, and in the second, three infielders teamed up to give Cain the lead. Brandon Crawford hit a leadoff double and went to third when Christian Arroyo grounded one to the right side in his first career at-bat. Joe Panik’s deep sacrifice fly to center brought Crawford trotting home.
Panik was in the middle of an insurance rally ion the seventh. He singled with one out, went to second on a walk, and scored on Hunter Pence’s bouncer up the middle. That run would immediately be needed. The Dodgers put runners on the corners with no outs in the eighth and got one back on a grounder. With two outs, Chris Taylor was gunned down by Buster Posey at second, with Corey Seager at the plate. He would probably like that decision back.
Sergio Romo took the mound in the bottom of the inning. He walked Eduardo Nuñez, got Posey to fly out, gave up a single to Crawford, and struck out Arroyo to end the inning.
Starting pitching report: Cain had a 5.13 ERA over the previous three seasons. Through four starts, he’s sitting at a staff-best 2.42. All of a sudden, his loss would be a huge one for the Giants.
Bullpen report: Steven Okert hustled to replace Cain in the seventh. He retired Yasmani Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez.
At the plate: Arroyo grounded out to second in his first three at-bats and then struck out.
In the field: Arroyo made a slick barehanded play to rob Grandal of an infield hit in the fourth and he kept going, picking Cain — who had been hit by the liner — up off the grass. They chest-bumped.
Attendance: The Giants announced a crowd of 41,399 human beings. There were no donkeys. The fans gave Romo a standing ovation after the first and Romo came out in front of the visiting dugout to tip his cap. He was wiping tears away as he returned to the dugout rail.
Up next: It was supposed to be Madison Bumgarner vs. Clayton Kershaw. Ty Blach vs. Clayton Kershaw is pretty fun, too.
Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain left Monday's game vs the Dodgers with the team's trainer prior to the start of the seventh inning.
NBC Sports Bay Area Plus cameras showed Cain heading straight to the team's locker room.
Uh oh. Cain is coming off with a trainer after throwing warmup pitches.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 25, 2017
Before exiting the game, Cain had pitched six innings and allowed just two hits.
After the game, NBCSportsBayArea.com Insider Alex Pavlovic updated Cain's status:
Right hamstring tightness for Cain. Also had X-ray on foot that came back negative.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) April 25, 2017
In this starts this season, Cain has a 3.31 ERA.