Cain, Giants tame the Dodgers, still modest win streak grows to four

May 15, 2017

MLB, San Francisco Giants

AP17136168362927

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–A four-game win streak–the first of the season for the Giants when just days earlier they couldn’t claim better than a two-game streak.  What lead to this?

Depends on who you ask.

Matt Cain, Monday’s good luck winning pitcher, pointed to Friday’s marathon victory over the Reds.  Cain also talked about how unsettling last week’s road trip was, how he and some teammates discussed changing their routine, anything to break the string of losses. Show up earlier? Stay later? Stay later; a 17-inning affair that ends at 12:43 a.m. certainly qualifies.

“It’s tough to be in a really long game, and lose it,” Cain pointed out.

Brandon Crawford doesn’t seem particularly superstitious, but he offered Denard Span’s bleeder that couldn’t afford to stay airborne any longer than it did.  When it dropped, the Giants had their first run on Monday night.  They would go on to score seven more.

“It felt like the first hit of the season,” Crawford joked.

If not Span’s blooper, what about Cain’s well-executed bunt that preceded it. Manager Bruce Bochy offered that, as well as Mac Williamson’s season debut. Williamson started to show signs of belonging in spring training, only to get hurt in the final week before the season’s start.  Finally healthy, Williamson debuted with two hits, a run scored and a run knocked in.

What about Buster Posey’s new goggles? Naw, the catcher said, just trying to block the furious winds and dust that often kick up during warmups as the sun’s setting, and definitely no fashion statement. Posey ditched the goggles after warmups.

“Yeah, sure,” Posey said sarcastically when it was suggested fashion was in play.

To sum up, a lot of things have gone into this modest win streak. That’s logical in that a lot of things went wrong prior. It’s ying and yang.  But the Giants needed to start winning in the worst way–the season’s now 25 percent consumed–or likely, pack it in for 2017. So few teams recover from falling 12 games below .500 in May.

Four games into their recovery, it’s so far, so good.

“We’re not going to get giddy here,” Bochy warned.  “We’ve dug ourselves a hole.  Every day we have to come out and try to play our best game. These guys are doing that right now.”

Cain improved his record to 3-1, needing a season-high 112 pitches to get into the seventh inning, while allowing five hits and a run.  Posey noticed the movement on Cain’s fastball, while Bochy noted that Cain could have thrown as many pitches in his previous start had the manager not needed a pinch hitter with runners aboard and the Giants trailing the Mets 3-1 in the fifth. The Giants went on that one, 6-5.

“His stamina is back, his strength is there,” Bochy said of Cain.

Offensively, the Giants hit overdrive in the fourth inning.  The first four batters got hits, capped by Eduardo Nunez’ single up the middle that scored Posey and Crawford. When Nunez’ ball was fielded by Corey Seager behind the second base bag, Nunez drew the attention of Dodgers’ starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy.  Taking advantage of a scrambled infield, Nunez broke for second. McCarthy cut off an awkward throw to the plate near the mound, putting him in position to catch Nunez in no man’s land.

But, hey Brandon in the grey uniform. What about the Brandon in the white uniform?

“He shouldn’t have been in the middle of the diamond,” manager Dave Roberts said of the unaware McCarthy. “The mechanics of the play, he should have been behind home plate, so that’s where it gets funky from the beginning.”

Adding to the funkiness of the play, third base coach Phil Nevin waved Crawford assuming the ball was going to split Seager and second baseman Chris Taylor. It didn’t, so Crawford was hung up as well.  But McCarthy forgot about Crawford, and instead waited for Seager to get back to second, where his throw to catch Nunez was late.

Did we mention that McCarthy just came off the disabled list? Or that the Dodgers were without their corner infielders, Justin Turner (rest) and Adrian Gonzalez (on the disabled list for the first time in his 14-year career)?

That’s called catching a break. The Giants could use a few.

On Tuesday, former Athletic Rich Hill faces Giants rookie Ty Blach at 7:15 p.m. in the second game of three between the heated rivals.

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