Cain struggles as Giants lose Game 1 5-2 to Reds
An uncharacteristic start from ace Matt Cain has left the San
Francisco Giants in unfamiliar territory to start this postseason
Cain gave up home runs to Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce for the
first earned runs he has ever allowed in the postseason, and the
Giants find themselves trailing a playoff series for a change
following a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the NL
division series on Saturday night.
”He wasn’t as sharp as he normally is,” manager Bruce Bochy
said. ”He left up a couple of pitches up that they took advantage
of and the ball left the park. … He was missing spots a little
bit. I think that’s fair to say tonight.”
Cain was a reliable workhorse during the Giants’ run to the
World Series title two years ago, allowing no earned runs in 21 1-3
innings. That was a big reason why San Francisco never trailed in a
series on the way to beating Atlanta, Philadelphia and Texas for
the franchise’s first championship since moving West in 1958.
But Cain was unable to outduel Cincinnati’s patchwork pitching
staff after starter Johnny Cueto left with back spasms just eight
pitches in. Sam LeCure pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings for the win,
scheduled Game 3 starter Mat Latos allowed only a solo homer by
Buster Posey in four innings and the Reds stellar bullpen did the
rest to take a 1-0 series lead.
”I made some bad pitches to put these guys in a hole,” Cain
said. ”That’s my fault.”
The loss by the Giants capped a down day in the Bay Area. The
Oakland Athletics lost the opener of their AL division series 3-1
Cincinnati came up with the kind of pitching Cain delivered
throughout the 2010 postseason, when he allowed just one unearned
run in three starts. He picked up where he left off to start,
retiring the first four batters with two strikeouts.
But he ran into trouble in the third when No. 8 hitter Drew
Stubbs led off with a single and scored on Phillips’ one-out homer
to left-center. It was the third homer Cain has allowed to Phillips
and ended his postseason stretch without an earned run at 23 1-3
innings – fifth longest ever.
Bruce, who has a .462 regular season average against Cain, added
to the lead for the Reds with a leadoff homer in the fourth to give
the Reds a 3-0 lead.
That marked just the second time the past two seasons that Cain
allowed two homers in a game at home with the other coming on June
29 against Cincinnati. Half of his six losses this season have come
against the Reds.
”The pitch to Bruce wasn’t too terrible but the hanging
breaking ball to Phillips is just something that you don’t want to
happen in a big-game situation like this,” Cain said. ”Hanging
breaking balls in these games always hurt a little more.”
Cain was then lifted for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning,
having allowed three runs and five hits. He threw only 75 pitches
and might be able to come back on short rest in Game 4.
But the Giants need to win a game to get the series that far.
Madison Bumgarner will be counted on to help the Giants tie this
best-of-five series Sunday before it shifts to Cincinnati for the
final three games. He pitched a one-hitter against the Reds in
Bumgarner went 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA as a 21-year-old rookie in
the 2010 postseason and his 16 wins this season were the most for a
Giants lefty since Kirk Rueter in 1998. But Bumgarner had a 5.89
ERA in his final seven starts.
”I think it was a mechanical issue and I think we got it ironed
out,” he said before the game. ”If we don’t, don’t matter, just
got to go out there and compete.”
The Giants tried to rally late and put the tying run on base in
the eighth before Gregor Blanco struck out and ended that threat.
They then loaded the bases in the ninth against Aroldis Chapman.
Pablo Sandoval popped out and the fans started chanting ”M-V-P!”
for batting champ Posey. A wild pitch scored one run before Chapman
struck out Posey on a 100 mph fastball to end it.
”It’s going to be a grind,” Giants outfielder Hunter Pence
said. ”They have great pitching. They have a great bullpen. We
still have a lot of series left. They made some plays and they got