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.

RATTO: Two-faced Giants

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.

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

Report: Division rival interested in Joe Thornton

The mere thought of Joe Thornton wearing a Kings sweater may be enough to cause some Sharks fans to lose their lunch.

But it might be a possibility.

According to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen, the Kings consider Thornton to be a “priority” should be hit the open market as a free agent. While the two sides are currently allowed to express mutual interest, NHL rules forbid them from discussing terms of any deal until Saturday at 9 a.m. PT.

Rosen points to a number of individuals in the Kings' organization that have ties to Thornton, including general manager Rob Blake, who played on the Sharks with Thornton from 2008-10. Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager in Boston and currently serves as the Kings’ senior advisor to the general manager. Glen Murray, a former teammate and frequent linemate of Thornton’s with the Bruins for three-and-a-half seasons, is in Kings player development.

The Kings, under new management since replacing Dean Lombardi with Blake, and head coach Darryl Sutter with John Stevens, have put a priority on finding players this offseason that can get pucks to dangerous scoring areas. 

Adding one of the best passers in the history of the NHL would surely help in that regard. Thornton sits 13th in the NHL all-time with 1,007 assists.

Rosen writes: “Los Angeles has been a dominant possession team without being a high scoring team for the better part of the last six-plus seasons, and it was articulated earlier in the off-season that the team needed to do a better job of taking advantage of that possession discrepancy. In trying to find players with the ability to turn possession into actual production, the team has placed an emphasis on finding players capable of distributing the puck into high-danger in the attacking zone. There might not be another player in the NHL – let alone unrestricted free agents – who is as gifted of a passer of Thornton, which places the team’s needs in concert with the future Hall of Famer’s skill set.”

As reported here previously Thornton, who turns 38 on Sunday, is seeking a deal of three years. That might not be agreeable to the Sharks, who are likely to sign Martin Jones and Marc-Edouard Vlasic to long-term and expensive contract extensions that would kick in with the 2018-19 season.

Of course, Thornton could also be using the Kings as leverage to get a new deal in San Jose, where he would prefer to remain.

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

Tierney, Sorensen among players qualified by Sharks

The Sharks have issued qualifying offers to restricted free agent forwards Chris Tierney, Marcus Sorensen and Barclay Goodrow, while cutting ties with three players in the system.

Tierney, 22, posted 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 80 games last season, serving primarily as the fourth line center. He has 64 points (24g, 40a) in 202 career games over three NHL seasons, all with the Sharks.

Sorensen posted one goal and three assists in 19 games with the Sharks last season, his first in the NHL. The 25-year-old played in all six playoff games against Edmonton, scoring one goal and one assist.

Goodrow, 24, skated in three games for the Sharks last season with one assist. He has 16 points (4g, 12a) in 77 games over three seasons with the Sharks, although has played in just 17 NHL games since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Forward Nikita Jevpalovs, defenseman Patrick McNally and goalie Mantas Armalis - also known for his career as a male model - were left unqualified and are now unrestricted free agents.

Earlier in the offseason, the Sharks signed pending restricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson. Donskoi received a two-year deal at a salary cap hit of $1.9 million, while Karlsson was signed to a three-year deal at $2 million annually.