San Francisco Giants Blow Ninth-Inning Lead on Cain’s Last Game
By Vince Cestone
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain left the field with a 1-0 lead after saluting the crowd and pitching five scoreless innings in his last start of his career, but just like so many other starts in his great career, the win on his baseball card was not meant to be.
With just one run of support and losing his chance for a win after a long, game-tying home run by San Diego Padres slugger Wil Myers the very next inning, the San Francisco Giants lost the game after blowing a ninth-inning lead.
Over 40,000 made the trek to see the near 100-loss Giants honor Cain in late September, but the fans were into it like the pennant race was on.
Cain is just the fourth Giants player to start and finish his career with the Giants (minimum 10 seasons), joining Jim Davenport, Scott Garrelts, and Robby Thompson.
But fans will remember his 2012 perfect game, his amazing 2010 postseason, and grinding out Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series.
ON THE MOUND
Saturday afternoon was all about Cain, who at least for one more day, showed his vintage form.
Before saluting the crowd of 40,394 and getting a standing ovation, Cain walked off the mound in his last start with five scoreless innings, only giving up two hits while striking out four. He only walked one.
Cain started the game perfect through two innings, but gave up his first hit of the game to Hunter Renfroe to lead off the third inning.
That didn’t rattle Cain. He got the next batter Austin Hedges to pop out to catcher Buster Posey, the pitcher Jhoulys Chacin to tap out, and Manuel Margot to ground out to short.
Manager Bruce Bochy said before the game Cain was on a 60-to-70 pitch limit and that he would be watched carefully. But Cain, possibly fueled by adrenaline, held strong, topped the gun at 92 miles per hour, with a nasty two-seamer.
Cain walked the leadoff hitter Cory Spangenberg in the fifth. Bochy came out to apparently take Cain out of the game, but the fans booed, pleading for Bochy to let Cain try for the win.
Well, it appeared to work as Bochy let Cain finish the fifth, the fans started cheering, and he retired the next three hitters in order.
With the Giants up 1-0, Cain was in line for the win when he left in the fifth. But those hopes were dashed when the Giants went to the bullpen.
Cain’s last pitch of his career was a curveball to the opposing pitcher Chacin. Cain said after the game jokingly he didn’t have much of a fastball left. He hadn’t pitched in about a month before Saturday.
Want your voice heard? Join the Around The Foghorn team!
Coming into Saturday’s game, Cain had lost his last 10 decisions, the longest from a Giant since Rod Beck lost 11-straight from Aug. 1995 to Apr. 1997.
Reyes Moronta gave up a long 2-out home run to Myers in the 6th, tying up the game at 1.
Steven Okert, Cory Gearrin, and Hunter Strickland combined for two shutout innings of one-hit ball.
But for the second time in as many chances, closer Sam Dyson blew a save in the ninth, ruining Cain’s final game.
After Yangervis Solarte led off the inning with a flyout, Christian Villanueva reached on a Brandon Crawford throwing error and advanced to second. Then, with 2 outs and runners at the corners, Austin Hedges hit a two-run double just out of the reach of right fielder Hunter Pence. Two runs scored and the Giants were now trailing 3-2.
Dyson had Hedges down 0-2, but threw a 97 mile-an-hour fastball at the knees but down in the middle. The location mistake cost the Giants the game.
AT THE PLATE
Like many times this year, the Giants didn’t do much at the plate.
The Giants opened the scoring in the second inning when they loaded the bases with nobody out. After Cain struck out, Pence hit a grounder to shortstop that almost turned into an inning-ending double play. But Pence was able to beat it out, doing a face plant after he touched first base. The Giants led 1-0 until Myers’ sixth inning home run.
The Giants retook the lead in the seventh inning off reliever Craig Stammen. Ryder Jones led off with a walk. He was then sacrificed to second by pinch hitter Orlando Calixte, and then Pence singled home Jones.
Pence (1-for-5) had both RBI in the game.
The Giants were held to just six hits. Posey went 2-for-4 with two singles, and he’s now hitting .318 on the year.
The Giants played a solid defensive game, until the ninth inning.
With one out, Villanueva hit a ground ball that Crawford charged on, but as he made a throw to first on the run, it sailed past Pablo Sandoval. That allowed Villanueva to reach second.
That error ultimately cost the Giants the game.
Next: Best Giants Moments of 2017
The Giants will finish the season Sunday against the Padres. Johnny Cueto (8-8, 4.43 ERA) will take on Luis Perdomo (8-11, 4.65 ERA). The Giants will go for their first series win this year against the Padres.