Giants Back to Old Ways, Fall to Rockies 1-0

Matt Cain got “Cain’ed” once again, as the Giants dropped game two to the Colorado Rockies 1-0.

Cain had his best start of the season, but the two-out hits couldn’t come through for him, and he took the tough-luck loss. He’s now 0-2 on the year.

The Rockies struck first again Cain. After Charlie Blackmon led off the third with a walk and Brandon Barnes followed it up with a base hit, both runners advanced on stolen bases while Cain faced Carlos Gonzalez. Cain eventually struck out Gonzalez, but the next batter – Troy Tulowitzki – brought in the first – and only – run of the game with a sacrifice fly to right.

After that, Cain settled in to deliver a very quality start. He needed 116 pitches – 73 strikes – to make it through seven innings, giving up four hits, one run, three walks, striking out eight and, perhaps most important, giving up zero home runs. The right-hander allowed a team-high 23 big flies last season and three in his most recent start against the Dodgers on Sunday night.

He’s improved in every game he’s pitched so far in 2014, throwing five innings against Arizona, six against LA, and seven on Saturday against Colorado. While he’s happy with his progress, Cain wasn’t happy that he allowed the two stolen bases that led to the winning run.

“The second game was a lot better mechanically. Throwing the ball was a lot better that game. And then today was better than the second game. The first game was a little bit erratic, it was a progression. Today was definitely much better, but it just kind of came down to more of a mental mistake, and here we are losing 1-0.”

The San Francisco offense was held to just three hits and wasted opportunities to get Cain a much-needed win at AT&T. Pablo Sandoval led off the bottom of the fourth with a double, and Brandon Crawford followed it up with a walk. But Michael Morse grounded into the all-too-familiar-for-Giants-fans double play, and Hector Sanchez struck out to end the threat.

The Giants loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth. Crawford hit a one-out double, and Brandon Hicks walked. Angel Pagan flied out to right and saw his ten-game hitting streak come to an end. After Hunter Pence walked to load the bases with two outs, Sandoval continued his offensive struggles, striking out swinging and failing to get the tying run home.

Sandoval is now batting .152 with one home run and four RBIs in 2014. Is manager Bruce Bochy concerned about his third baseman yet?

“[Rex Brothers] made a pretty good pitch on the last pitch to get [Sandoval] to chase there. We’ve got two or three guys that aren’t swinging the bat like they can…They’re good hitters, they’ll come around and the numbers will be up there. But at the end of the day, it’d be nice to get them going now.”

Jean Machi and Yusmeiro Petit pitched perfect eighth and ninth innings, but that early Rockies run proved to be insurmountable. Bochy summed up the game nicely.

“We pitched good. Cain gave us a great effort. The bullpen did a great job. They just pitched a little better.”

The Giants will look to win their first series at AT&T in 2014 when they send ace Tim Hudson (2-0, 1.15 ERA) to the mound to face Tyler Chatwood, who’s making his first start of the season.