SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Cain was lighting-quick with the praise when asked about his bullpen.
"That's unbelievable," he said. "That was tremendous."
The performance also saved Cain and Bruce Bochy from a rather uncomfortable situation. The lineup knocked Max Scherzer out in the third but Cain almost gave all six runs back. Ultimately, the Giants won 8-5, but even before this game there was buzz around certain corners of the park that Cain's status might be "start to start" soon, and this performance did nothing to quiet the whispers. At times, Cain looked like his old self, but again he couldn't carry it forward. He was charged with five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings and has given up 18 earned in his last 19 2/3 innings. In eight starts, Cain has a 6.05 ERA and 1.58 WHIP.
"When you look at him for moments, he's the old Matt Cain," Bochy said. "And then he gets out of sync."
It happened quickly Friday. Cain allowed one run in the first four innings and then gave up two homers and four runs in the fifth. Bryce Harper had the big blow, a three-run crush job on a fastball that simply trickled right back over the heart of the plate. Bochy had hoped that Cain could finish the inning.
"He had first and third and made some good pitches there to keep them from scoring, and the pitch just got away from him on the three-run homer," Bochy said.
Cain said he was trying to pitch carefully to Harper.
"I put the fastball right down the middle," he said.
Why not just intentionally walk the MVP frontrunner?
"If I had known that pitch was going to get away from him, I'd probably put him on," Bochy said smiling.
[PAVLOVIC: Blanco credits Aoki, Panik for surge at plate]
Bochy explained that early in the game he doesn't want to bring the tying run to the plate, and Ryan Zimmerman would have been that guy. Harper wasn't really supposed to get anything to hit, and Bochy said that if the count started to get away from Cain he probably would have put four fingers up. The blast ruined Cain's line on a night he felt he had good stuff.
"Results-wise, it doesn't show what it was out there," he said. "That's frustrating."
--- My game story is all about Gregor Blanco's big night. He said he's trying to be more like Nori Aoki and Joe Panik, and it's working. As good as Blanco has been this series, he might sit tomorrow against Gio Gonzalez. Bochy is well aware of the fact that Blanco wears down when he's an everyday guy, and it sounds like Juan Perez is ticketed for a start tomorrow.
--- Matt Duffy hit a low, sinking fastball from Max Scherzer into the night. It was his 10th homer and part of his 12th three-hit night.
"We tried to get him in the strike zone and look for something over the middle," Duffy said. "We weren't really going up there looking to ambush the fastball."
Well, he did, and that's a nice addition to his Rookie of the Year resume. Duffy was a triple shy of the cycle and he said it did cross his mind, but he tried not to think about it too much. He's been in that situation a couple times before and has maybe changed his approach. He was focused on sticking with his swing tonight, and that led to a sacrifice fly late.
--- I'm not going to write about Sergio Romo. Instead I just want you to watch this clip of his slider. That says it all.
—- If you don’t follow me on Twitter, what’s wrong with you?! But if you don’t follow me on Twitter, here are some updates from before the game: Mike Leake is expected to return to the rotation on Tuesday … Aoki is expected to be ready when eligible after seven days … The Giants are looking at late August for a Panik return, and he’ll likely head to Scottsdale next week to rehab … Susac will play for Sacramento tomorrow and the Giants will make a decision after that game. He could return for the next road trip. Susac homered tonight and caught 2 2/3 shutout innings from Tim Hudson in San Jose.
Also, Dan Uggla got his World Series ring today, and it even came in the same nice blue box that we saw earlier this year when the Giants got them. Now, this led to a lot of whining on Twitter, but …
1. Every player who spends a day on the active roster gets a ring. Jarrett Parker got one even though he never got into a game.
2. Uggla is quietly a fascinating and maybe pretty important figure in Giants history. He was soooo bad in his four-game cameo that the Giants had no choice but to call Duffy up from Double-A and give more time to Panik, who was hitting about .200 at the time. It worked out beautifully, so in a way, Uggla — by not even being serviceable — helped jumpstart the Duffy-Panik Era that you all so thoroughly enjoy. Give that man his ring.