Cain shrugs off post-perfect hangover

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Cain shrugs off post-perfect hangover

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO In what was his most effective outing since a perfect game on June 13, Giants pitcher Matt Cain made it be known after a 9-3 win over Colorado on Saturday his struggles since that historic performance havent kept him up at night.

Thats just a bunch of noise from the media, according to Cain, who pitched seven-and-a-third effective innings and gave up just two earned runs in recording his 11th win.

You guys (the media) have just kind of put that out there. That hasnt been something Ive been worried about, Ive been worried about just going out there and pitching and trying to get guys out and help the team win, Cain said.

The numbers were hard to ignore, though. Cain was just 2-3 with a 4.40 ERA since he was perfect on that June night, allowing 29 earned runs in 57-and-a-third innings in his last nine starts. The Giants were just 2-6 in Cains previous eight starts before Saturday, after going 11-3 in the 14 before that.

REWIND: The perfect game page

Manager Bruce Bochy hopes that Cain has returned to form.

He had command, the ball was moving, he pitched very effectively, all of his pitches worked. I sensed some determination out there today, Bochy said. Hes so good, and has done such a great job this year, and this was the Matt Cain that we know.

Cain said: I felt good last start (a loss to St. Louis on Monday), I just didnt make some pitches I needed to. Today, I felt like I was able to make just better quality pitches at times I needed to make them, and a little more consistent with getting ahead and throwing strikes early and getting defensive swings.

What was the difference?

I was on the plate more and I wasnt out in the middle more today, he said. I was able to be around the outer-thirds of the plate a little bit better. That was good, and something Ive been kind of working on the last two starts and in between in the bullpen sessions, too.

Of course, it helps that the Giants were able to get on Colorado starter Drew Pomeranz early and often, including a two-out, RBI single by Cain himself in the second inning. Pomeranz exited after surrendering four runs in four innings, while reliever Josh Roenicke didnt fare any better with four runs surrendered in the two innings that followed.

The Giants held a comfortable 5-0 lead after five, and increased it to 8-1 after six. Each of San Franciscos nine starters had at least one hit.

San Francisco has notoriously struggled to score runs at home this season, and had just two combined in its last three games at AT&T Park. The Giants busted out of that in a big way on Saturday.

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You go through your streaks, good and bad. You have your ruts. We were bound to come out of this, Bochy said. You start doing some good things offensively, and today we did. Again, it was really everybody doing something to help out and get the line moving, as we say.

Cain said: Thats always been a huge key for any starter, when the guys go out and jump on somebody early and get some runs early.

Buster Posey, who has thrust himself into the MVP discussion since the All-Star break, continued his torrid pace with a 2-for-4 performance, including one walk, a two-run home run and two RBIs. Hes 43-for-97 (.443) with nine home runs and 32 RBIs and has hit safely in 23 of 26 games since the Midsummer Classic.

His team-leading 19th home run of the season, on a change-up from Pomeranz in the third inning, gave the Giants a 4-0 lead. It was just the 18th home run by a Giants player at AT&T Park this season.

Im comfortable hitting here. I see the ball well. Its a big ballpark but the gaps are big too, so you have to take advantage of that, said Posey, who added that he believes the ball carries better at AT&T Park in day games.

Posey sat out on Friday night when the Giants were blanked by the Rockies in the first game of the series. He returned to bat fourth on Saturday.

Hes our cleanup hitter and that guy is usually the guy that the club feeds off. But, hes going to need an occasional day off, Bochy said. Hell get another day or two, or I dont know how many hell get from this point on. You cant throw him out there every day. And thats why I mentioned its going to take everybody doing something.

Cain hopes that Poseys surge can fly under the radar, something his struggles after the perfect game did not do.

Hes just been on fire, and thats something that hopefully we can just keep quiet and let him keep doing it, Cain said.

That, too, is unlikely.

Marleau back to the middle as Sharks deal with no Couture, Haley

Marleau back to the middle as Sharks deal with no Couture, Haley

SAN JOSE – All four of the Sharks’ lines have been in a blender for much of the season. 

Now, with Logan Couture out for at least one game and probably longer, and Micheal Haley getting tagged with a one-game suspension, the coaching staff has no choice but to mix and match the remaining forwards in time for Tuesday’s home game with the Rangers.

They’ll hope it’s the right recipe to snap out of what has been a miserable six-game losing streak in regulation, including the last two in which the Sharks have been outscored 13-3 by Dallas and Nashville.

The most notable player to be shifted is Patrick Marleau, who will apparently be centering the second line against New York. It will be just the fifth game he starts at center this season, and first since Feb. 11 in Philadelphia, when he was filling in for an ill Couture.

Marleau, of course, has played plenty of center over the years, including the second half of last season and first handful of playoff games when he was in the middle of the third line.

“I don’t think there’s been a year where I haven’t played center, so it’s just one of those things, move in and out,” Marleau said. “We’re interchangeable throughout the whole lineup, anyway.”

Marleau has been one of the few effective Sharks players lately, with three of the team’s last five goals. He has 26 goals on the season, third on the team, and is fifth on the Sharks in points with 44.

“Patty is playing great. I don’t think we could ask for more from him,” said coach Pete DeBoer. “Arguably a lot of nights this year he’s been our best forward. He’s playing hard, he’s playing strong. He’s been a real valuable piece for us. We wouldn’t be in the spot we’re in this year without him and the way he’s played this year.”

Marleau is set to skate with Melker Karlsson and Mikkel Boedker, as Karlsson is good to go after missing the last eight games with a lower body injury. The 26-year-old Swede is having a nice season with 19 points (9g, 10a) in 60 games.

The third line featured Tomas Hertl between Joel Ward and Marcus Sorensen, while Chris Tierney will center the fourth line with Timo Meier and Joonas Donskoi.

Karlsson, who confirmed he was ready to return, said: “Cooch is out, and we’ll see how long he’s going to be out, but I’ll do my best. I’m going to work hard, and hopefully can get going here.”

Marleau described Karlsson as “tenacious on the forecheck, causes a lot of turnovers. He’s hungry on that puck. He’s going to get his opportunities, and I’m sure he’ll put a few in the back of the net.”

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Of course, the Sharks don’t care who scores the goals, just as long as it’s someone. It’s been a season-long issue for them to get their depth scorers to do more, and if they want any chance at reclaiming first place in the Pacific Division while Couture is out, that will be a necessity.

Among the players that will bring their scoring woes into Tuesday’s game will be Donskoi (no points 13 games), Hertl (no points in 12 games), Boedker (no points in 10 games), Ward (no points in six games), Sorensen (one assist in 10 games) and Tierney (one goal in 12 games).

Could Couture’s absence be a wake up call for those guys?

“I would hope it doesn’t take an injury to get that. That’s something we’re looking for, it’s something we’ve challenged the group to get more out of them,” DeBoer said. 

“They’re the first guys to recognize they’ve got to give us a little bit more. That’s been an ongoing process. The good news is they’ve all done it before. I feel that they all have the ability to raise their level another notch here before the playoffs. I think they have enough character that we’ll see that.”

Time is growing short, as the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in a little more than two weeks.

Marleau said: “When you go into playoffs, [secondary scoring] is usually what makes a difference. We need everybody contributing and guys stepping up at different times. We know that in this room, and guys are looking forward to doing that.”

Sharks' Haley suspended one game for punch on Jarnkrok

Sharks' Haley suspended one game for punch on Jarnkrok

SAN JOSE – Sharks forward Micheal Haley has been suspended one game for punching Nashville’s Calle Jarnkrok on Saturday in San Jose’s 7-2 loss, and will miss Tuesday's home game with the Rangers.

After absorbing a borderline hit from behind into the glass by Jarnkrok, Haley tracked down the Predators forward and promptly delivered a left jab to Jarnkrok’s face at 12:56 of the final frame. He received a match penalty for intent to injure on the play.

According to the video released by the league, Haley “was seeking retribution” for the hit by Jarnkrok, who was already being penalized for boarding, and delivered a “forceful punch on an opponent who was not able to defend himself at the time.”

The 30-year-old Haley, who has never been fined or suspended before in his career, gave his perspective of what happened on Monday.

“We were breaking out there and next thing I know I was face first in the glass,” Haley said. “Just emotions [took over]. Kind of scared from the hit and I just went after him. Looked at him right in the eyes. He saw me. By the time I swung at him his face might have turned a bit. When I went at him I saw him clearly look at me, and I thought he knew I was coming.”

Haley expected Jarnkrok to engage him after the Predators forward delivered the bad check.

“I thought it was a pretty dirty hit, and I thought I gave him ample amount of time. I think he [had] enough time to know what I was trying to do, and trying to get him to fight.”

He added: “In hindsight, I wish none of it happened. I wish I didn’t get hit and I wish I didn’t punch him, but it happened. I don’t think I started it. It wasn’t premeditated or anything. If I missed that punch then we probably don’t have this conversation.”

In 54 games this season, Haley has two goals and nine assists for 11 points. His 110 penalty minutes is fifth in the league.