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


“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.