With chance to advance, Giants turn to Cain
Win-or-go-home Game 5 puts San Francisco's ace in Reds' territory
CINCINNATI -- The two mistakes Giants starter Matt Cain made during Game 1 of this National League Division Series were painfully palpable for all to see as there's no hiding from even the most minute of indiscretions under October's postseason gaze.
Not when misguided pitches become souvenirs, as was the case when Cain allowed two home runs in the Giants' loss to the Reds on Saturday at AT&T Park.
"I made more mistakes that even showed up," Cain said. "I think may have been overanxious ... going out there, with the first game being at home."
Cain said he'll try to avoid those kinds of miscues when he takes the mound in a decisive Game 5 on Thursday (10 a.m. PT, TBS) against the Reds. If he doesn't, then the season and this spirited comeback from being down 0-2 in the series is over.
Accomplishing as much won't be easy, not in the Reds' cozy ballpark, one the Giants made very small in Wednesday's 8-3 victory when they hit three home runs in a Game 4 win over the Reds.
Tale of the Tape: Game 5
|2012 regular season|
|Overall: 32 GS, 16-5, 2.79 ERA, 51 BB, 193 K||Overall: 33 GS, 14-4, 3.48 ERA, 64 BB, 185 K|
|Key stat: Received the loss in Game 1, allowing three runs on five hits in five innnings||Key stat: Came on in relief for the first time in his MLB career in Game 1, pitching four innings, giving up a solo homer|
|At Great American Ball Park|
|2012: 1 GS, 0-1, 4.26 ERA
Career: 5 GS, 2-2, 3.44 ERA
| 2012: 19 GS, 8-3, 3.18 ERA
Career: 21 GS, 9-3, 3.05 ERA
|Against this opponent|
|2012: 2 GS, 0-2, 5.54 ERA
Career: 10 GS, 4-5, 3.54 ERA
|2012: 2 GS, 2-0, 0.56 ERA
Career: 11 GS, 4-3, 2.19 ERA
|Loves to face: Drew Stubbs, 1-for-11, 4 K
Hates to face: Jay Bruce, 6-for-13, 4 RBI
|Loves to face: Angel Pagan, 3-for-17, 3 K
Hates to face: Buster Posey, 4-for-15, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB
|Why he'll win: The postseason is nothing new to Cain -- he didn't allow an earned run in 21 1/3 innings in three starts in 2010.||Why he'll win: He hasn't recorded a loss in eight outings and has given up one run or less in his past four appearances.|
|Pitcher beware: Cain's losses come in pairs. Of his five defeats in the regular season, there were two sets of back-to-back losses.||Pitcher beware: Half of his losses came when pitching on four days' rest, and his worst ERA -- 3.80.|
|Bottom line: Finish the monumental comeback to make history||Bottom line: Step up again for the club and make it through to the NLCS|
In a do-or-die Game 5, the Giants have the momentum after two successive victories and with their ace in Cain, who won 16 games in the regular season. He will get another shot at defeating Cincinnati, this time on its turf, at raucous and red Great American Ball Park.
If they do so, the Giants will match the 2010 Rangers as the only Major League teams to have won every road game in a Division Series.
"There will be a tomorrow," said Giants center fielder Angel Pagan, who belted a home run to start the game Wednesday, the first San Francisco player to do so in playoff history.
The bats carried the Giants in Game 4. In Cain, the Giants feel they have the right guy on the mound for Game 5.
In Game 1 at AT&T Park, Cain's streak of 23 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run in the postseason came to screeching halt when Brandon Phillips slugged a two-run home run in the third inning for a 2-0 lead that paved the way for a 5-2 victory.
All told, Cain allowed three runs on five hits over five innings. After the home run by Phillips, he allowed a solo shot to Jay Bruce.
Cain's issues in that game were mostly of command -- leaving pitches up in the strike zone, something that can be problematic no matter who you're playing or where. But doing so again facing this meaty Reds lineup could lead to big trouble in a hurry.
"I will try to think back to other starts and be more calm and relaxed and worried about making good pitches instead of just going out there and maybe firing it up there and just try to make less mistakes and minimize the damage," Cain said.
It won't be easy beating the Reds, which is something Cain hasn't done in 2012. He lost to them twice during the regular season and in Game 1, needed 75 pitches to cover five innings.
After Wednesday's victory, Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval was asked if there was some level of comfort with having Cain on the mound. He shook his head.
"It's a team," he said. "You win with all these guys."