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Watch: Matt Cain dominates in final career start

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Matt Cain took the mound for his final career start on Saturday afternoon. His 13-year run with the Giants has been buoyed by flashes of brilliance, from his contributions during three championship runs to the perfect game he executed against the Astros in 2012, and no matter his stat line on Saturday, it was bound to be an emotional day. Given his startling downturn over the past five seasons, no one would have blamed the veteran right-hander had he imploded yet again, mirroring some of the 9+ run, three-inning outings he weathered earlier in the year. Instead, the Giants were treated to a vintage performance from their former ace.

Cain dazzled the Padres’ end-of-season lineup (admittedly, not an impressive feat in and of itself), spitting four strikeouts, two hits and a walk over five scoreless innings. He retired the first six batters in order before allowing a leadoff single to Hunter Renfroe in the third, but induced three quick outs to end the threat and didn’t allow another batter past first base for the rest of his start.

It looked like Cain’s career finale was doomed to end on a sour note after he issued a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg in the fifth. Giants’ skipper Bruce Bochy approached the mound, incurring a stream of boos from the crowd, but ultimately decided to leave the rest of the inning to his starter. Cain didn’t disappoint, inducing a fly out from Renfroe, whiffing Austin Hedges on four pitches and getting Jhoulys Chacin to ground out to end the inning.

The 32-year-old tipped his cap to the crowd as he walked off the mound, then tossed it into the stands. He wouldn’t take the win — Wil Myersgame-tying home run took care of that in the sixth — but there was no more fitting footnote to an incredible career.

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.

The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.

While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.

Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?