In Monday’s opener, Matt Cain again placed himself in conversation with the Giants’ most decorated pitchers. When he walked off the mound after the third out in the third inning, he was a member of the 2,000-inning club. A feat only he and 11 other Giants have reached. Eight of the twelve are in the Hall of Fame.
Cain is the first to record all 2,000-plus innings as a Giant since Gaylord Perry did it in 1970. “He’s our longest tenured guy (13th season) and we all know it,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s a giant. That’s who he is.”
And he reached the milestone on a night where he earned a win and helped propel the Giants to an 8-4 victory over a hot Dodgers squad who entered the game having won 12 of their last 16. Cain tossed 112 pitches in 6 2/3 innings, the most in a single outing since he threw 116 in seven innings back on April 12, 2014 against the Rockies.
“He’s got such great control out there with his delivery,” Bochy Said. “His stamina is back.”
The three-time All-Star took the long, bumpy route back to productive contribution since significant injuries began in 2013. But this season he looks revitalized. A more accepting, reformed version of the former linchpin who played a pivotal role in two of three recent World Series runs. The transition from flame thrower to pitcher appears to have found its form.
“I really think that was probably the biggest hurdle for him: learning to pitch with different stuff,” Bochy said. “When he was on he could power his way through lineups.”
He’s never been a guy that’s needed to worry about precise command. And where his former overpowering stuff led him to greatness, he’s had to learn to develop and evolve his craft—like a low 70 MPH curveball he mixed in to his arsenal Monday night, for example.
“I think it has set in for him the type of pitcher he needs to be now,” Bochy said. “And that’s pitching backwards and using all of his pitches.”
Cain’s currently sporting the best ERA (4.04) amongst the staring rotation, excluding Madison Bumgarner. For starters with no less than eight starts, he’s leading in hits surrendered (42) and home runs allowed (4).
“It’s really been fun for us to see what he’s done,” Bochy said. “It was a little bumpy this spring and for him to bounce back and do what he is doing says a lot about his mental toughness.”