Coming into Saturday's game against the best team in baseball, Matt Cain was sporting an 0-5 record and a 5.87 ERA. The good news was that he was coming off of consecutive strong starts, combining to toss 15 innings, allowing just three earned on 13 hits and a pair of walks while striking out 12 against Arizona and Toronto, two of the best offenses in baseball from a year ago. As has been the case throughout his career, Cain didn't receive much run support in those outings, and the runs that were scored came too late for him to qualify for the win.
That brings us to Saturday, with Cain having gone winless in his last 17 outings dating back to July 22 of last season. In that July start, Cain went 6 innings, allowed five hits and one earned on a Jedd Gyroko solo homer while walking one and striking out six. Cain's final line on Saturday was eerily similar, as he again went six, gave up one earned on a solo homer, this time to Kris Bryant, allowed six hits and walked two while striking out five.
But wait. Cain allowed a run. That means he lost, right? Not today my friends, because another streak came to and end. In addition to not gathering a win in what seemed like forever, hit last hit came even foreverer ago, in 2014. Riding the longest 0-fer streak in baseball when play began, Cain stepped up to the plate with two on and two out before working the count full.
Saturday's first baseman Buster Posey jokingly said following the game that he was hoping that Cain would take the pitch and with it his base. Instead, the pitcher ripped a double to center scoring both runs to give himself an early 2-0 lead. Bochy joined the ribbing post-game when he said that he was just glad that Cain made contact. Coincidentally Cain got his streak-breaking hit against Jon Lester, who notably started his career 0-for-66 at the plate.
When asked which was bigger for him, the hit or the win, Cain said, "They're probably really comparable. I just got lucky and ran into one. It was definitely nice to go out there and give the guys a chance at a win going against a guy like Lester."
The difference for Cain over the last three starts, accrording to him, is that he has been able to make the pitch when he's needed to, adding "I've been able to get guys out in key situations." When asked if after three starts if he feels that he has turned a corner, Cain responded, "No, I think that would be a bad thing for me. The biggest thing is to stay pushing and keep finding ways to get better. We've been doing a great job at working on things in between bullpens...I think it'd be bad if I were to think that that was it."
Posey said that he has noticed a little difference in Cain's delivery, even though backup catcher Trevor Brown has caught each of his last two starts "He's comfortable in the windup and in the stretch right now. The ball seems to be coming out very easy."
Cain seems to save his best at the plate for some of the best pitchers in the game. His last base hit came against Zack Greinke while his last extra-base hit was a homer against Cole Hamels. Lester is no slouch in his own right, coming into play today with a 1.88 ERA before the Giants touched him up for five earned in just 2.2 innings.
Javier Lopez was all smiles after the game, saying, "I think everybody knew what the situation was...and [Cain] wants to get that W just as much as anybody else does, and to be able to give it to him was awesome."
Cain has been pitching brilliantly over his last three starts, but after an off-day on Thursday he's slated to take the ball against the Rockies next Friday in Coors Field. That will be one heck of a test to see if he has turned the corner.