NEW YORK — Bruce Bochy repeatedly praised his lineup, noting the fight his hitters showed against Jacob deGrom, one of the best pitchers in the league. He felt bad for Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford when they had good at-bats in the eighth and hit balls 381 feet and 372 feet, respectively, and ended up with just sacrifice flies.
All the praise came after a loss, though, because once again the Giants had too big a hole to dig out of. Matt Cain gave up six runs in six innings and the lineup couldn’t claw all the way back, losing 6-5 at Citi Field. Cain’s outing came a day after Jake Peavy was knocked out in the third inning of a blowout loss, and combined the two have given up 43 runs in 50 innings this season.
Bochy was asked if the time has come to start a discussion about shaking things up at the back end of the rotation. He immediately shook his head.
“No, no. I have too much confidence in these two guys,” he said. “We’re in April here. I’ve seen some good things and both of them are close. I don’t think there’s an option that’s going to make the staff better. I think these two, when all is said and done, they’re going to get their wins and help us out a lot.”
Peavy and Cain will appreciate those words, but on back-to-back days you could see the disappointment on their faces. They know how good this Giants lineup is when given a chance to go head-to-head with the other side.
Cain did have his positives Saturday, repeatedly hitting 93 mph and throwing a season-high 108 pitches without laboring. He had stretches where he pitched very well, but he gave up count leverage in the first two innings while falling behind 4-0. Michael Conforto, a budding star, and Wilmer Flores took him deep later in the game.
“It’s definitely frustrating because the stuff is there and now it’s about making pitches at the right time and getting guys out,” he said. “It is definitely frustrating. The big thing you can do is look at the positives. The stuff is there.”
Bochy thinks the results will be there soon. He said he saw too many positives on Saturday.
“He was really good (for a stretch) and mixed in two mistakes and they left the ballpark,” Bochy said. “That’s a tough one for the fellas. They played hard.”
--- Pence and Crawford both had exit velocities of over 105 mph. That was some bad luck in the eighth. “Unbelievable,” Bochy said. “To have two balls like that and not get a break on one of them, I feel for the guys. They threw out some good at-bats there.”
--- Bochy wasn’t pleased that Brandon Belt was thrown out at third in the third inning, ending a threat. “I know he’s trying to get to third there, but we’ve got a guy (deGrom) teetering. That didn’t help matters,” he said.
--- The Giants challenged in the eighth to try and get a double play on Neil Walker’s slide. That rule might change in some way eventually, because players see too much confusion in the way it’s called. Crawford said he didn’t know if the slide was illegal, but he thought the Giants had a shot.
“To me, it didn’t look like he tried to stay on the base, which I thought was one of the things (they changed),” he said. “It didn’t look like he did it to me, but it’s not up to me to decide.”
Walker appeared to try and get up and he pushed off the ground instead of staying on the bag. His feet also went at Crawford, but it was hard to tell if they were far enough at the runner to make it illegal. It’s all an odd rule, and Crawford put it best with his first answer: “Before this year, I wouldn’t have thought twice about it,” he said.
--- Joe Panik said he's day-to-day with that mild groin strain. He'll check on it in the morning. He had his cleats on today, but said he was the "last resort" when it came to pinch-hitting.