SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – All things Barry Bonds aside, the Giants won two World Series titles without him. They won them with pitching.
So on the day that Bonds arrived in camp, the real shine belonged to Matt Cain’s five spotless innings in a 3-2 exhibition loss to the Chicago Cubs. The real gloss can be found on the rotation, where Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson have combined to throw 27 scoreless innings this spring.
[BAGGARLY: Bonds offers much to Giants, but not contrition]
That is 27 innings without a run, earned or otherwise. If you want to look under the hood, they’ve given up just 10 hits, walked five and struck out 19.
Ryan Vogelsong would tell you he aspires to much more than a five-and-dive fifth starter. But that’s all the Giants will require of him, if their front four are on their mark. With three weeks till Opening Day, they look set to go.
“It’s something we all felt even coming into FanFest,” said Cain, after striking out seven while going 15 up, 15 down. “We didn’t do what we needed to. You can tell guys are motivated and they don’t want that to happen again. It’s early in the spring but it’s good to get it going.”
[REWIND: Vogelsong roughed up by Mariners]
Cain was particularly pleased that he was able to put away hitters, which is something he struggled to do at times last year. So many of his mistakes came on two-strike pitches, including seven of his career-high 23 home runs allowed.
“Sometimes you drop your guard with two strikes, and it’s not over,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “You’ve got to finish off hitters. … It seemed like (Cain) had great concentration today.”
Said Cain: “Those are times when they’re in a vulnerable situation and you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Cain even got a hit, and made sure to make eye contact with Bumgarner in the dugout. Bumgarner hit an RBI single a day earlier against a team of Giants prospects.
“I got lucky and he threw it into my swing,” Cain said, smiling. “If you saw the second swing I had, it was pretty bad.”
Well, hey. That’s what Bonds is here for.