Matt Cain

Matt Cain identifies biggest struggle in lackluster year


SAN FRANCISCO — What could have been a turn-around start in a disappointing season for Matt Cain quickly turned into another bad loss.

After facing the minimun through three innings, Cain stared down Yasmani Grandal with runners at the corners, two outs and a chance to keep the Padres scoreless.

“I didn’t make the pitches that I needed to,” Cain said after allowing six earned runs in 7 1/3 innings in a 6-0 Giants loss, their 10th in the last 13 games. “I had good opportunities to get out of that without any runs and I made two mistakes — two big mistakes.”

[Instant Replay: Despaigne, Padres shut out Giants]

The first was an 86-mph changeup that hovered in the zone. Grandal hit it to a fan on the right-field facade for — after a three-minute replay delay — an RBI double. The second came next on a curveball to Tommy Medica that was turned around for a two-RBI double.

“The one to Grandal was really bad,” Cain said. “The pitch to Medica wasn’t terrible, but I maybe could have thrown it lower and farther away from him.

“I’ve got to make those pitches.”

That, Cain will tell you, has been his biggest problem this year.

“You’ve got to really make sure to bear down when you’ve got a chance to get out of the inning, you’ve got to take advantage of that,” he said.

Even if he escaped the fourth unscathed, though, it would have been tough for Cain to get the win on this night as the Giants were shut out by San Diego for the first time since September of 2010.

It was the ninth time in 12 starts that the Giants have provided two or fewer runs of support for Cain.

“He knows there’s things you can’t control — like getting run support,” Bochy said. “It seems like he’s had to deal with this since he’s come up to the major leagues.”

“I’m not going to complain about it,” Cain said flatly. “It’s not going to happen.”

But even his manager will acknowledge the emotions that a 1-6 start with a 4.82 ERA will elicit from a three-time All-Star.

“He’s human, I’m sure he’s frustrated,” Bochy said. “I could tell you he’s getting a little tired of it. He gives you all he has every game and he did tonight. We couldn’t get any runs for him. But I’m sure it’s wearing on him.”

Still, there is a clear positive to be gleaned from Monday’s loss. Cain recorded an out in the eighth inning for the just the second time this season.

“All you can do is go out there and give us a chance to win,” Bochy said. “You give up three runs going into the eighth inning, you’ve done that. And he did that tonight.”

What the Giants didn’t do on Monday was figure out Odrisamer Despaigne, the 27-year-old Cuban who made history by becoming the seventh pitcher to go seven or more shutout innings without a walk in his major league debut.

“He was just on,” said Hunter Pence, who had one of the Giants’ four hits. “All my at-bats were pretty tough.”

The Giants didn’t have much of an advanced scouting report for the right-hander. They did dredge up some high-angle video from Cuba, but nothing like the typical center field shot that shows pitch movement.

“Film does’t show what goes on in the game,” Pence said, avoiding an excuse.

In fact, you couldn’t find an excuse anywhere in the Giants clubhouse, but the team had better come up with one or two if it isn’t able to string together a few wins during this 10-game homestand.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
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Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.