Matt Cain’s numbers in 2013 may not have been as good as he’s accustomed to seeing, but he finished the season strongly and entered spring training hopeful of getting back to being the ace of the San Francisco Giants’ staff.
Unfortunately, he’s entering 2014 knowing he needs to pitch much better than what he showed during spring training.
Cain takes the mound Tuesday night for San Francisco, which used a thrilling rally to beat the host Arizona Diamondbacks in its season opener.
Cain (8-10, 4.00 ERA) had a disappointing season by his standards after posting his highest ERA since a career-worst 4.15 mark in 2006. He landed on the disabled list for the first time in his career with a right forearm contusion in late August, though he still had a solid 2.71 ERA over his final 12 starts.
The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.61 ERA over his last eight starts against the Diamondbacks, but his performances during the spring exhibitions were nothing to boast about. He finished with a 7.47 ERA in four outings, including giving up six runs and nine hits in five innings against Colorado on Wednesday in his final tuneup.
"My arm strength was fine," Cain told the team’s official website. "It’s just a matter of making pitches. I know it’s going to be there."
He’ll likely need better stuff against a Diamondbacks team that chased Madison Bumgarner after four innings and collected 16 hits Monday. But after Arizona (0-3) took a 7-3 lead into the seventh inning, the Giants rallied for a 9-8 win.
Buster Posey broke a tie with a two-run homer in the ninth after a single from Brandon Belt, who finished 3 for 5 with a home run and three runs scored.
”I think we want to be a team that keeps grinding and keeps pushing,” Posey said. ”It was nice to be able to do that right out of the chute to give us that confidence that when we get down we know we have the ability to come back.”
Posey is 8 for 15 with a homer and three doubles lifetime off Wade Miley, who will look to help the Diamondbacks avoid dropping their first four games for the first time since 1999.
Arizona lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 22 and 23 in Sydney, Australia, to begin the season, as Miley (0-1, 5.40) allowed three runs and struck out eight in five innings of Arizona’s season-opening 3-1 loss.
In order to stay fresh during the long layoff between regular-season outings, the left-hander made a start in the Cactus League on Thursday and gave up three runs in 4 2-3 innings against Cleveland.
"I just wasn’t executing pitches," Miley told the team’s official website. "I was leaving fastballs over the middle of the plate, really wasn’t getting ahead (and) I was leaving them in fastball counts. They were able to sit on things. Just wasn’t very good."
Miley is 0-3 despite a 3.77 ERA in five career starts against San Francisco, giving up two runs in each of the last three.
The Diamondbacks hope to provide Miley with some offense after a solid night at the plate Monday, as Mark Trumbo, Miguel Montero and Chris Owings each finished with three hits. Montero homered in the ninth to cut the deficit, but Arizona’s bullpen gave up four runs and six hits in 2 1-3 innings.
”It stings a bit but we need to regroup and come back tomorrow,” manager Kirk Gibson said.
Paul Goldschmidt will be looking to extend his hitting streak to 23 after going 2 for 5 in the series opener.