Making the most of the little support he’s receiving, Matt Cain moved to 5-0 when the Giants score at least three runs in beating the Nationals on Wednesday. It was his first complete game of 2011 and the 13th of his career.
Today marked the fifth time the Giants have scored exactly three runs through his 13 starts this season. They’ve managed to win each of those games, with Cain getting two no-decisions in the process. They’ve score a total of five runs in his four losses.
Cain helped his own cause in this one, doubling in Eli Whiteside to put the Giants on the board in the bottom of the sixth. The Nationals tied it back up in the seventh on Rick Ankiel’s double, but the Giants scored twice in the bottom of the inning to make it 3-1.
Cain ended up throwing 110 pitches in the gem. He reached double figures in strikeouts for the first time since a July 1, 2008 start against the Cubs. His career high for strikeouts is 12, established in a win over the Rockies on Aug. 6, 2006.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.