Matt Cain identifies biggest struggle in lackluster year

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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.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).