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Friday, April 13, 2012

Giants Back Cain's 1-hitter Win in Home Opener

The Giants have looked like a completely different team the last two days than the team that started the season 0-3. They've pitched terrifically, gotten timely hitting and have finally gotten those jitters out in the field and have tightened up on defense.

Friday's opener was really all about Matt Cain though, as the new 112 million dollar man showed you exactly why the Giants felt comfortable giving him that deal, throwing his 5th career complete game shutout, and yet another 1-hitter. I'm telling you, for all the 1-hitter's this guy's thrown, I'm surprised he hasn't thrown a no-no yet. He had everything going Friday, with his fastball running in in righties and away to lefties in the low 90's. His off-speed stuff was right on as well, as his slider and curve ball were each un-hittable at time and his new found friend, that change-up, has given a dominant pitcher another trick to play with out on the mound. There really isn't anything else to say other than Cain was the epitome of brilliance on Friday, and had it not been for opposing starter Jason McDonald's single, he would have gone down in Giants history as the only Giants starter to ever throw a no-no in the home opener. Regardless, it felt like a no-hitter, as Cain was backed with plenty of offense, including a Buster Posey (who making his first regular season start at AT&T since last May) RBI double off the top of the wall in center in the first inning that really set the tone for the game. That was followed by an RBI knock from Aubrey Huff, who had one of his better games of the young season, going 2-3 with 3 RBI and his first home run of the new year.

Again though, the offensive catalyst at the top of the order getting things going was Melky Cabrera, who's just gelled into that 2 spot before Panda and Posey terrifically. He had another 2-hit day Friday, scored another two runs and raised his early season average to .414 while also collecting his first stolen base of the season. It's also nice to see Huff and Schierholtz really getting it going. Especially Huff, who the Giants need to have that 20-25 HR bounce back season. His swing has looked much more compact and quick than it was last season and the ball was just jumping off his bat today. That first inning single was raked as well as the line drive 2-run shot. As for Nate, the one thing I've noticed differently about Nate this year is that he's wearing batting gloves. I'm pretty sure this season is the first time I've ever seen Nate play a game and bat with batting gloves, and it's yielded some pretty nice results to start the year. He got another couple of knocks Friday, as Bruce Bochy choose to roll with the Schierholtz over Belt, and if Nate keeps hitting like he has these last few games, and Huff's bat continues to look strong and quick as it did Friday, then the kid is going to have a tough time finding at-bats. The only other guy in this lineup outside of Belt that's had a slow go of it out of the gate has been Angel Pagan, and had another sub-par effort at the plate Friday. Bochy's made no bones about it that he'll give Pagan some time to try and iron things out, and to Pagan's credit, he's hit the ball hard a few times, just right at guys, then Boch will start rolling with Gregor Blanco in center and leadoff.

I would say Pagan will be safe through about April 20-25th, but if he's still hitting sub-.200 come plate April, Bochy will go a different route. It's an even further showing of just how solid Cabrera has been in that two-hole, as he's really been the guy to get things going and has this offense performing at a much better level than last years.
The Giants Baseball Blog


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