San Francisco Giants’ righty Matt Cain threw five hitless innings last weekend in AT&T Park, before he was lifted from his start against the Washington Nationals, eventually earning the decision in what ended up a 3-1 win.
Cain’s pitch count was high, and he was in just his third start back following two stints and a total of 43 games on the DL with a right hamstring injury that he re-aggravated when he first attempted to return, so he was pulled in spite of the fact that he hadn’t allowed a hit.
Washington Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker talked after that loss to the NL West-leading Giants about what Cain was able to do to keep his hitters off-balance.
"Cain wasn’t throwing like the Cain that we knew," Baker said. "But he pitched smart.
"He was throwing 85, then he’d throw 90-91, and then back to 85 and 83. He threw a lot of pitches in a short period of time and he kind of had us either behind or ahead and we were taking good pitches and swinging at bad pitches."
In their second look at the Giants’ veteran starter in a week tonight in the nation’s capital, Nationals’ hitters didn’t fare much better.
Cain held the Nats scoreless through 5.0 before a leadoff single by Wilson Ramos ended his night. He earned his second straight win over the Nationals in what ended up being a 7-1 game in the Giants’ favor.
Here’s how it happened:
Stephen Strasburg started for the Nationals after he missed the Giants during the four-game set in AT&T.
He was looking for his third straight win after giving up just one run in 13 innings in back-to-back wins in his previous two outings, which followed his first loss of the 2016 campaign last time out in D.C.
It didn’t go too well for Strasburg in a short outing in Nationals Park.
Eduardo Nunez was 2 for 2 with a double and triple for the Giants’ only two hits to that point, when he tripled to start the fourth, and one out later scored on an RBI single to center by All-Star backstop Buster Posey, 1-0.
The fourth and fifth hits followed in the next two at bats as Brandon Crawford hit a low liner through the right side and Hunter Pence reached on a swinging bunt that died in the grass down the third base side.
Posey scored on a bases-loaded walk to Joe Panik, 2-0, but Strasburg got the 8-9 hitters to leave’em loaded and keep the score where it was.
The Nationals squandered a bases-loaded, one-out opportunity in the bottom of the fourth and Nunez struck again in the Giants’ half of the fifth with another triple and a run scored to make it 3-0 Giants. Nunez (3 for 3, 2B, 2 3B).
Brandon Belt, who drove Nunez in with an RBI double, scored on a sac fly to center off Brandon Crawford’s bat as the Nationals fell behind, 4-0 in the fifth.
That was it for Strasburg:
• Stephen Strasburg’s Line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 8 Ks, 88 P, 56 S, 2/1 GO/FO.
Blake Treinen finished off the fifth and threw a scoreless sixth inning to keep it 4-0 in the Giants’ favor.
Hunter Strickland finished off the sixth after taking over for Cain.
• Matt Cain’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 95 P, 51 S, 8/0 GO/FO.
Sergio Romo retired the Nationals in order in the seventh and the Giants added to their lead on an RBI single by pinch hitter Ehire Adrianza in the eighth. 6-0.
Wilson Ramos, Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa hit back-to-back-to-back singles off Jake Peavy in the bottom of the eighth, with Espinosa driving Ramos in to make it 6-1 Giants.
Brandon Belt hit an 0-2 fastball from Jonathan Papelbon out to right for a solo home run in the top of the ninth, 7-1 Giants. That’s how it ended.
Nationals now 65-45
- Last night’s loss left San Francisco (5-14) overall since the All-Star Break (.263), the worst in the majors) and 2-11 on the road since the Midsummer Classic
- Washington’s win last night was their fourth straight, leaving them 65-44 overall on the year with the second-best record in the majors, behind only the Chicago Cubs (67-41).
- Washington’s +140 run differential is also the second-best in the majors, behind only, again, Chicago’s +176.
- The Nationals scored two runs in the first last night in the series opener with the Giants. They were the 86th and 87th first-inning runs Washington has scored in 2016, the most in the majors, and eight more than the second-place Baltimore Orioles’ 79 first-inning runs.
- The Giants’ hitters are a combined .157 for 660 (.238 AVG) with 65 runs scored in 19 games since the Break, the third-fewest runs scored in the majors over that stretch.
- In today’s San Francisco-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: With runners in scoring position, the Giants are 10 for 71 (.141 AVG)... in their last eight games, and they’re 39 for 240 (.163 AVG) w/ RISP since July 1st.
- In today’s Washington-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Nationals’ pitchers, as a group, lead the NL with a 2.16 ERA and a .183 BAA... since July 27th.
- Giants’ starter Matt Cain won his 100th game for San Francisco last weekend, when he beat the Nationals in AT&T Park. It was his second straight overall. A third today, would give him a three-game win streak for the first time since 2013.
- Giants’ pitchers, after allowing two home runs last night, have given up 32 in 19 games since the All-Star Break, tied with the most allowed in the majors (Royals).
- Daniel Murphy has 18 hits in the last 20 games, over which he’s 29 for 71 (.408 AVG) with nine doubles, a triple and seven home runs over that stretch.
- Murphy starts the night tonight leading all NL hitters in AVG (.356), SLG (.626), total hits (139), doubles (32), extra-base hits (58) and multi-hit games (44).
- Jayson Werth extended his on-base streak to 36-straight games last night with a single in the first. Over the course of his streak, he’s collected 33 hits and 26 walks while posting a .383 OBP.
Nationals now 65-45