Cain delivers for Giants to cap unbeaten spring
AP Baseball Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Matt Cain’s job stability is now in excellent shape for years to come. On Tuesday night, he pitched with a clear mind.
Cain struck out six in five innings to cap an unbeaten spring, delivering in a 3-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics a day after the two-time All-Star agreed to a $127.5 million, six-year contract that is the richest in baseball history for a right-hander.
All along, Cain (4-0) insisted he wanted to resolve his situation one way or another before opening day – and the Giants came through with a big pay day.
“Yeah, it’s a relief,” Cain said. “I definitely have a lot more time here, and that’s awesome. I’m looking forward to it. I think we have that energy. All the guys are feeling good and excited. It was really cool to see how much (of a reaction) it got from fans and from my teammates. They’re so excited, and it pumps you up. And it makes you ready for the season.”
Melky Cabrera scored the go-ahead run in the fifth on Aubrey Huff’s fielder’s choice, and Brandon Belt added an RBI single in the fourth after Huff’s one-out double.
Cain allowed Josh Reddick’s solo home run in the first but retired the A’s newcomer on a called third strike his next time up to end the third.
Cain also made a nifty play with his glove – accidentally, he admitted – on a cool night at the Coliseum, where the low-hovering mist resembled the fog that is such a regular feature across San Francisco Bay. The pitcher chased down Coco Crisp’s bunt that traveled some 20 feet down the third-base line and made a sliding stop before firing to first base for the out while still on his backside.
The play made his manager and others a tad bit nervous.
“It would have been a lot nicer if I hadn’t have slipped,” Cain said with a smile. “It should have been an easier play. I don’t even know how that happened. You kind of get lucky and you wing it. And I did – I winged it. … Usually, a lot of times, when you slip you don’t do anything. For some reason, I just kept going and I threw it. It just worked out.”
Sergio Romo earned his first save of the spring for the Giants, who still have six tough roster moves remaining Wednesday to reach the 25-player limit before traveling to Arizona on Thursday for Friday’s opener against the defending NL West champion Diamondbacks. It seemed likely the Giants would carry three catchers, with Hector Sanchez making the team.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was impressed with how Sanchez caught late in a close game on Tuesday – not to mention how well he has hit all spring.
Bochy said he would try to have closer Brian Wilson face at least one hitter Wednesday after he struck out the side in order for his first spring save in Monday’s 4-2 win at AT&T Park.
New A’s center fielder Yoenis Cespedes doubled in his first at-bat while making his Coliseum debut, but was thrown out at the plate on a close call when Brandon Allen singled to center. Angel Pagan made a perfect throw to allow Eli Whiteside to tag Cespedes.
“That was awesome,” Cain said. “He made a great throw.”
Cespedes added a second double in the fourth.
A’s starter Tyson Ross (2-1) allowed two earned runs and six hits over five innings, struck out four and walked one. He now must wait to hear whether he or Graham Godfrey will earn the fourth spot in Oakland’s new-look rotation after the A’s lost All-Star Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill in trades this offseason.
Either Ross or Godfrey will be optioned to Triple-A Sacramento until the A’s need their fifth starter for the first time in the middle of the month.
Ross gave up a first-inning RBI single to Pablo Sandoval and Belt’s single in the fourth. The right-hander hit Ryan Theriot with a pitch to load the bases in the fourth but struck out Emmanuel Burriss and Whiteside to avoid further damage that inning.
“It’s been an interesting spring. There’s a lot of young talented guys,” Ross said. “I think I’ve done my best out here, and we’ll just see how things turn out.”
Whiteside caught Cain. Buster Posey is slated to catch four or five innings in the exhibition finale Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park. The starters will play again but will come out early, Bochy said.
Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford sat out after spraining his left thumb – his glove hand – diving for a ball in the hole on Monday night.
“He’s playable,” said Bochy, who said Crawford would be held out again Wednesday to ensure he is ready Friday. “It’s very mild.”
Notes: Giants 2B Freddy Sanchez played four innings of a minor league game in Arizona as he rehabs his surgically repaired right shoulder that landed him on the DL to start the year. … Bochy received good reports about LHP Barry Zito’s Monday bullpen session. Zito is set to pitch to minor leaguers Wednesday in Arizona before reuniting with the team in Phoenix. The Giants hope he will get up to about 90 pitches. … A’s manager Bob Melvin planned to announce his fifth starter – Ross or Godfrey – Wednesday in San Francisco. … Oakland LHP Dallas Braden received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his surgically repaired, strained left shoulder and won’t resume a throwing regimen for at least three weeks. … A pregame moment of silence was held for the victims of a shooting at nearby Oikos University on Monday that killed seven people.