SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants Opening Day starter Matt Cain is nicknamed "The Horse" for his durability. He's started anywhere from 31 to 34 games in each of the past seven seasons with the Giants, only pitching less than 200 innings once, in his first full season.
But after Gaby Sanchez's line drive drilled Cain in his pitching arm in the Giants' 10-5 loss to the Pirates on Thursday, Cain is in serious jeopardy of missing his first start due to injury.
[RECAP: Pirates 10, Giants 5]
"We're not going to take any chances," manager Bruce Bochy said. "There's a possibility we skip him."
Even though X-rays came back negative, that possibility is strong given Cain's forearm swelled up immediately and he was feeling it after the game.
[NEWS: Cain takes comebacker off throwing arm]
"It's sore," Cain said. "It caught me pretty good. It didn't feel good right off the bat."
That the Giants trail the first-place Dodgers by 19 games in the NL West doesn't help Cain's chances at starting in Colorado next Tuesday.
[RELATED: MLB standings]
"That ball was smoked and it caught him flush," Bochy said. "He's pretty sore. We'll see how he feels (Friday).
"He's taken some pretty good shots up the middle, too. He's been hit a few times."
Prior to Thursday, the most dangerous comebacker in Cain's professional career came in his final start before the 2009 All-Star break, when a line drive caught Cain right on the elbow. It forced him to forgo his chance to debut in an All-Star Game, but he didn't miss any of his scheduled starts for the Giants.
This time, Cain might not be so lucky.
"Gotta figure out what your body can do and go from there," Cain said, explaining that the ball caught him in the "meaty" part of the middle of his right forearm.
Even before wearing Sanchez's drive, it wasn't a good start for "The Horse," as Cain's command was not sharp.
"I was a little ahead of myself and made some bad pitches," Cain said. "They were not missing them."
The Pirates connected on two home runs against elevated fastballs in the fourth inning. Cain has now allowed 21 big flies on the year, one away from his career high.
Were it not for the injury, Cain might have been able to go deep in the game, as he steadied after a rocky first few frames. But Bochy's bullpen was again called on early, and it's a group that is running low on gas.
Guillermo Moscoso has surrendered eight runs in seven relief appearances for the Giants and Jose Mijares has allowed 13 earned runs in 12 innings pitched since the All-Star break.
"We need some starters to go deeper into games," Bochy said. "This 'pen is getting used a lot."
It will be up to Madison Bumgarner to do just that in Game 2 on Friday. The Giants have been outscored 31-9 in the first four games of their homestand and have been tailspinning since they were two games over .500 and near the top of the division on June 1. Since then, the Giants are 27-46 (.370) and now sit 15 games under .500 and in last place in the NL West.
"It's really incredible," Bochy said. "I keep saying this, but we'll come back out and be ready to go tomorrow, play hard and see what happens."
The team will see what happens with their ace, as well, as an update is expected on Friday. He's never been to the disabled list in his nine-year MLB career. Can you remember Cain missing a single start due to injury?
"It's pretty amazing really, all the innings he's thrown," Bochy said. "There's still hope he'll make his start.
"You've got to have that hope."
If only that was the sentiment surrounding the Giants' lost 2013 campaign.