The first day back went a lot better for Jose Fernandez than it did for Matt Cain.
Making his first start in almost a year, Cain gave up all the runs in a 5-4 loss to the Miami Marlins. The Giants got swept in South Florida, with Fernandez carrying a heavy load in his first game back from Tommy John surgery.
Fernandez was making his first start in nearly 14 months and the Giants jumped on him early. Gregor Blanco lined a leadoff single up the middle and Joe Panik poked a double down the third-base line. The Giants got one run on Buster Posey’s sacrifice fly and a second when Brandon Belt’s pop-up to left dropped between two Marlins.
Cain had an easier first inning, working around two walks to throw up a zero. His fastball sat 91-92 mph and Cain showed confidence in his changeup and slider. The right-hander didn’t give up a hit until Christian Yelich’s liner to the left-field wall with two outs in the third. Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a single to center that got the Marlins on the board.
The teams exchanged unlikely homers in the fifth. Blanco went upper deck off Fernandez and then the Marlins' ace bounced right back by taking Cain deep in the bottom of the inning. The blast was just the start of Cain’s fifth-inning trouble.
A walk and single put runners on the corners for Justin Bour, who hit a three-run, walk-off homer Wednesday night. Cain threw him a fastball that leaked across the middle and Bour destroyed it, hitting another three-run blast and giving the Marlins a two-run lead.
The fifth would be Cain’s last inning, while Fernandez got through six.
Buster Posey got the visitors a run closer with a solo homer in the eighth, but the Giants couldn’t get the tying run in from second.
Starting pitching report: Cain gave up five earned runs on seven hits and four walks. It was just the eighth time in his career that he gave up at least five while walking four in such a short start. Cain relied heavily on his slider and struggled with fastball command at times while topping out at 92 mph. He threw 89 pitches in his first game back, just 51 of which were strikes.
Bullpen report: Mike Broadway was nasty in a 10-pitch sixth inning, sitting at 95 mph and showing a wipeout slider.
At the plate: Blanco was 2-for-4 and has 16 hits in his last 33 at-bats. It might be worth keeping him up in the leadoff spot even when Angel Pagan returns to the lineup this weekend.
In the field: Another day, another great play by the middle infielders. Brandon Crawford and Panik teamed up to turn a slick double play that ended the fourth inning.
Up next: A return to Washington, home of 18-inning games, Bryce Harper’s hair and the best starting staff in the National League. The Giants won’t face Max Scherzer, but they do get Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and future offseason target Jordan Zimmermann. Jake Peavy makes his return to the rotation on Friday night.