Giants-Astros Preview

The first two San Francisco Giants starters to pitch in 2010
have done their job. Now, it’s Matt Cain’s turn.

Cain takes the ball Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park,
where the Giants look to sweep the season-opening series and spoil
Brett Myers’ Houston Astros debut.

After two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum
allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings of Monday’s 5-2
season-opening victory, veteran lefty Barry Zito struck out five
and surrendered three hits over six innings of a 3-0 win
Tuesday.

“It’s big to come out and win a series in the second day and we
can go out and get that sweep (Wednesday),” Zito said.

San Francisco hasn’t swept its first series since 2003 against
San Diego, but the hard-throwing Cain could change that. Coming off
his first All-Star appearance and a career-best 14-8 record and
2.89 ERA in 2009, the 25-year-old right-hander is excited for the
new season after signing a three-year extension last month.

“It just shows appreciation for the things I’ve done, and the
way they run the organization,” said Cain, who will earn a
reported $27.25 million over the length of his deal. “It shows that
we can do something to benefit both sides.”

Cain has become a young workhorse for the Giants over the last
four seasons, pitching at least 190 2-3 innings each year. He
matched a career high with 217 2-3 last season, and tied for the NL
lead with four complete games.

Cain is 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA in four career appearances – three
starts – against the Astros.

Myers is looking to get his career back on track after an
injury-plagued season with Philadelphia. Signed to a one-year deal
in January after spending his first eight seasons with the
Phillies, the right-hander missed more than three months last year
with a torn labrum in his right hip. He finished 4-3, but posted a
career-worst 4.84 ERA while splitting time between the starting
rotation and bullpen.

Houston does not appear concerned.

“He got a clean bill of health in all respects, the hip, the
shoulder, everything checks out fine,” said Astros team president
Tal Smith. “He’s a big, strong guy. He’s been a workhorse and
there’s no reason why he can’t continue.”

Myers strained his groin March 25, but said he didn’t feel any
effects of the injury last Friday after throwing 82 pitches in his
final spring training outing.

With a .194 team batting average and 16 strikeouts through two
games, the Astros may sorely need a solid outing from Myers.

“This is not the way we should be playing,” said right fielder
Hunter Pence, who is hitless in eight at-bats. “We just have to
start scoring runs and start hitting. Hitting is contagious and
once the first guy hits, we all will.”

Astros left fielder Carlos Lee went 0 for 4 Tuesday, but is 5
for 8 with a homer and three RBIs lifetime versus Cain.

Houston is trying to avoid its second season-opening sweep in
four years. The Astros dropped three straight home games to
Pittsburgh to open 2007.