The final game of the spring was one to watch if only for one reason, Matt Cain. And despite giving up three runs, only one earned, Cain showed the San Francisco Giants coaching staff as well as the fans that he is ready to open the 2016 season in the rotation. Oh, and the Giants lost a meaningless game 4-1 to the Oakland A’s.
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It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the team for longer than the last few years that the Horse is as competitive as anyone in the Giants rotation. But having injuries that require the focus to be on rehabilitation, as opposed to strengthening and endurance, can cause a pitcher to get so far behind that a season can conceivably be lost.
But Cain feels good now and didn’t hold back in his final outing, throwing 88 pitches in five full innings. Only a solo home run off the bat of Khris Davis, marred an otherwise good performance. And just as the previous three starters have done, Cain kept the ball in the strike zone, walking only two (one of them to the next hitter after Davis’ home run, the other to Davis on a 3-2 pitch in his next at-bat.)
Cain was not helped in keeping his pitches down after the solo shot to Davis as Denard Span could not corral a deep fly ball to center, and then could not pick it up cleanly which allowed Marcus Semien (who had been the one to draw the walk), as well as the batter Jed Lowrie to score.
It was a tough day for Span, who was charged with two errors on the play, and also hit two lazy fly balls and struck out. Span making contact, and hitting line drives and ground balls will be a key to the Giants success this year.
Light-hitting utility infielder Ehire Adrianza hit a solo shot in the ninth to left-center, and after an off-season in which his spot on the team was seriously in question, he has shown that his bat is starting to come around. He led the team in hits for the spring with twenty, which is no small feat for a glove-first infielder who was competing with Kelby Tomlinson for a back-up job. He hit so well this spring that he forced his way onto the team, since his slick fielding was never in question. It is even possible to see him in the outfield if the team needs him to.
Once Cain departed after the fifth, most of the reserves came on to finish out the spring. The rest of the team began to focus their attention on Monday and the Brewers, where the Giants will open their season in Milwaukee for the first time in team history, and will be facing starter Wily Peralta. Madison Bumgarner will go for the Giants, making his third consecutive opening day start.
Buster Posey was out of the line-up today battling the flu, but wasn’t likely to see much action anyway leading into the regular season.