Bay Area Baseball

Follow the latest news and notes on the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics

May 11, 2013
Cain bruised, not battered against Braves; Scutaro on the rise

SAN FRANCISCO -- Before Friday, the Giants' last four wins and six of their last eight had come by one run. Friday night, they faced a pitcher in Tim Hudson whose last loss to the Giants came in 2006 and whose ERA in nine starts since against them was 2.48. So while manager Bruce Bochy wasn't expecting to see his team knock Hudson out of the game with a six-run fourth -- the most runs they've scored in an inning this season -- he wasn't complaining either.

"It is nice," Bochy said after the Giants' 8-2 win over the Braves. "We don't have a lot of these games. It's nice to be able to kind of work the 'pen the way you would like, give some guys a break. Guys just did a great job of putting together that big inning."

The six runs and seven hits in the inning were both single-inning highs for the Giants on the season. The seven hits were the most they've had in an inning at home since Sept. 7, 2008 against the Pirates. Marco Scutaro had two of them -- he started the rally with a lead-off single and capped it with a two-run single after the Giants batted around. They were Scutaro's first and second career hits off Hudson, his former teammate with the A's.

"I don't know if it's really fun facing that guy," Scutaro said when asked if he enjoys facing an old teammate. "But today I guess it was fun."

Scutaro's having a lot of fun at the plate during his current 10-game hitting streak. He's batting .487 (19-for-39) in that span with nine runs scored and his average for the season is up to .295. Two weeks ago, on April 28, he was hitting .215.

Scutaro was dealing with a sore back for the first part of the season, and he said Friday night the biggest factor in how he's hitting right now is: "That my back got better. I'm able to use it." He said he's not feeling any discomfort now.

"When you're not 100 percent this game can be tough, especially trying to hit a baseball," Bochy said. "He was trying to battle through it and finally he got it to calm down."

Bochy said he still would check on Scutaro before deciding whether Scutaro will play Saturday in a day game.

* Matt Cain, hit hard during a winless April, got hit really hard Friday night but in a different way. Brian McCann's line drive back up the middle caught Cain flush on the right hip in the second inning. Cain bounded off the mound after the ball and made an acrobatic throw to first from an awkward angle to get McCann.

"Should be good," Cain said afterward. "Should just be a good bruise."

Cain said he'll get some normal treatment on the hip -- "whatever guys do when they get hit or whatever." He shrugged it off during the game, too. Cain had his longest outing of the year, throwing eight innings and allowing just three hits, one a McCann home run in the fifth that accounted for both Braves runs.

Bochy said the Giants dugout held its breath for a moment after the liner hit Cain, and not just because it was their nine-figure ace taking the shot. The Giants' bullpen has been taxed lately, including working 4 2/3 innings Thursday night in relief of Ryan Vogelsong, and Bochy said it would have been a challenge to cover the rest of the game had Cain had to leave in the second inning.

Instead, Cain threw 114 pitches and got the Giants to the ninth, where George Kontos and Javier Lopez combined to close the door.

"That shows you how tough he is," Bochy said. "That's a pretty good shot. ... We kept checking on him during the game, but he was fine."

* Through two starts in May, Cain has looked more like Cain. Aside from the McCann home run Friday -- the 26th ball that has reached the water in McCovey Cove on the fly by an opposing player -- he gave up an infield single and a Justin Upton double, and that was it. Cain struck out seven, including Schafer swinging on his 114th pitch, and again showed he's feeling strong by hitting 92 mph in the late innings.

"I've just been feeling good," Cain said. "I've been feeling better. Buster (Posey) did a great job and (Guillermo) Quiroz did a great job (in his last start) just kind of instilling confidence in me to go out there and have confidence in throwing my pitches, no matter what it was."

Cain clarified that the Giants' catchers haven't literally sat him down to pump him up, but he believes their confidence in him has rubbed off.

"It's just talking to guys -- 'Hey, we can get these guys out with this pitch' -- it kind of keeps the momentum going," Cain said. "And with the way that they maybe call a game, not being tentative with what sign they're putting down, I think that helps.

"That's going to help you big-time when maybe you're questioning what to throw, and they stick a number down there confidently. You're pretty happy about it and say, all right, if he's got a lot of faith in it then I think I should, too."

* Going back to the six-run fourth -- it was the most runs the Giants have scored off Hudson in a game since they last time they beat him, on April 8, 2006. Friday marked Hudson's shortest outing ever against the Giants at 3 2/3 innings.

"The one inning, we threw out some great at-bats, kept the line moving," Bochy said. "We've been looking for a big inning for a while, so it's good for the guys."

Posey had the first big blow with a two-run double that broke up a 0-0 game. Unlike Scutaro -- and a lot of hitters in baseball over the last 15 years -- Posey has impressive career numbers against Hudson, now 7-for-12 with three RBIs.

* Cain's only real quibble with his outing was the home run allowed to McCann, because it came in the half-inning after the Giants had their scoring outburst. Obviously Cain's looking for a shutdown inning in that situation. Instead, he gave up the second Splash Hit ever by a Braves player. The other was Rick Ankiel, in Game 2 of the 2010 NLDS.

* It's a pair of lefties tomorrow afternoon as Madison Bumgarner (3-1, 2.31) opposes the Braves' Paul Maholm (4-3, 3.09) at 1:05 p.m. Or, in other words, mere hours from now.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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