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Matt Cain identifies biggest struggle in lackluster year

Jun 24, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO — What could have been a turn-around start in a disappointing season for Matt Cain quickly turned into another bad loss.

After facing the minimun through three innings, Cain stared down Yasmani Grandal with runners at the corners, two outs and a chance to keep the Padres scoreless.

“I didn’t make the pitches that I needed to,” Cain said after allowing six earned runs in 7 1/3 innings in a 6-0 Giants loss, their 10th in the last 13 games. “I had good opportunities to get out of that without any runs and I made two mistakes — two big mistakes.”

[Instant Replay: Despaigne, Padres shut out Giants]

The first was an 86-mph changeup that hovered in the zone. Grandal hit it to a fan on the right-field facade for — after a three-minute replay delay — an RBI double. The second came next on a curveball to Tommy Medica that was turned around for a two-RBI double.

“The one to Grandal was really bad,” Cain said. “The pitch to Medica wasn’t terrible, but I maybe could have thrown it lower and farther away from him.

“I’ve got to make those pitches.”

That, Cain will tell you, has been his biggest problem this year.

“You’ve got to really make sure to bear down when you’ve got a chance to get out of the inning, you’ve got to take advantage of that,” he said.

Even if he escaped the fourth unscathed, though, it would have been tough for Cain to get the win on this night as the Giants were shut out by San Diego for the first time since September of 2010.

It was the ninth time in 12 starts that the Giants have provided two or fewer runs of support for Cain.

“He knows there’s things you can’t control — like getting run support,” Bochy said. “It seems like he’s had to deal with this since he’s come up to the major leagues.”

“I’m not going to complain about it,” Cain said flatly. “It’s not going to happen.”

But even his manager will acknowledge the emotions that a 1-6 start with a 4.82 ERA will elicit from a three-time All-Star.

“He’s human, I’m sure he’s frustrated,” Bochy said. “I could tell you he’s getting a little tired of it. He gives you all he has every game and he did tonight. We couldn’t get any runs for him. But I’m sure it’s wearing on him.”

Still, there is a clear positive to be gleaned from Monday’s loss. Cain recorded an out in the eighth inning for the just the second time this season.

“All you can do is go out there and give us a chance to win,” Bochy said. “You give up three runs going into the eighth inning, you’ve done that. And he did that tonight.”

What the Giants didn’t do on Monday was figure out Odrisamer Despaigne, the 27-year-old Cuban who made history by becoming the seventh pitcher to go seven or more shutout innings without a walk in his major league debut.

“He was just on,” said Hunter Pence, who had one of the Giants’ four hits. “All my at-bats were pretty tough.”

The Giants didn’t have much of an advanced scouting report for the right-hander. They did dredge up some high-angle video from Cuba, but nothing like the typical center field shot that shows pitch movement.

“Film does’t show what goes on in the game,” Pence said, avoiding an excuse.

In fact, you couldn’t find an excuse anywhere in the Giants clubhouse, but the team had better come up with one or two if it isn’t able to string together a few wins during this 10-game homestand.

  1. hcf95688 - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    I’m sure the giants are glad that Cain – with his ERA of just south of 5.00 and his 94-94 career record – is signed through 2017 at $20M per.

    • bgrillz - Jun 24, 2014 at 1:20 PM

      Yeah. It’s a real bummer to have a guy who has won two world series and been to 3 all star games and is under 30 on your roster for 3 more seasons. He is having a bad year, but it seems to be he has a bad inning or two. But still manages 7+ innings. He will adjust. He will have to or he’ll be out of a job.

  2. gloccamorra - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:20 PM

    I saw the game on TV, and it looked like Cain was leaving far too many pitches up in the zone and over the meat of the plate. Even Padres hitters can hit those. They actually missed several fat pitches over the plate, so it could have been worse.

  3. stex52 - Jun 24, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    He’s a big fly ball pitcher. For the last two years those fly balls have been clearing the wall at a really high rate. Can he adjust that back? I guess we get to find out. I would be concerned if I were a Giants fan. It’s not like he has a big strikeout pitch.

  4. illuminancer - Jun 24, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Whatever the problem is seems to be out of the stretch. He was perfect through the first three innings, and it was only after someone got on base that things fell apart. Lincecum seems to have the same problem. Wonder if there’s something they can work on with Rags?

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