MIAMI (AP) – For much of the season, Matt Cain didn’t look like the three-time All-Star that had won 55 games over the last four years. Now he seems to be returning to form.
The San Francisco Giants hope for another strong outing from Cain on Sunday as they host the Miami Marlins and Nathan Eovaldi, who tries to build on an encouraging season debut.
Cain (5-3, 4.55 ERA) compiled a 5.45 ERA through his first 12 starts, surrendering six or more runs four times. For a pitcher who entered the season allowing 0.76 homers per nine innings, the right-hander was plagued by the long ball, giving up 13 in a span of seven starts from April 12-May 16.
He has served up only two homers in six starts since, and owns a 1.31 ERA over his last three outings. He struck out a season-high 10 and retired 15 straight at one point while throwing seven innings in the Giants’ 5-4 win over San Diego on Tuesday. He gave up two runs on a pair of homers and didn’t issue a walk for the third time this season.
“Cain had probably more than we’ve seen in a long time, a wide assortment of pitches,” Padres manager Bud Black told the Giants’ official website. “He was really mixing his pitches and we couldn’t solve him.”
After sitting on the disabled list since spring training due to right shoulder inflammation, Eovaldi (0-0, 3.00) limited Arizona to two runs – both on a Martin Prado homer – and three hits over six innings in a game Miami lost 3-2 on Tuesday.
“It felt good getting back on the mound,” said Eovaldi, who gave up a career-worst eight runs over five innings in his only start against the Giants last June, with the Los Angeles Dodgers. “This is the best my fastball has felt, locating it and everything. With my offspeed, it’s still a little timing issue and I’m rushing it a little bit.”
The 23-year-old, who came to Miami in last year’s Hanley Ramirez trade, didn’t have any problem firing his fastball despite missing so much time, hitting 99 mph.
“I had seen his game reports in the minor leagues and he touched 100 a few times,” manager Mike Redmond said. “I was pleasantly surprised by him being able to sustain and maintain that fastball through the course of his 85 pitches.”
Redmond was tossed for the first time in his managerial career in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Giants (38-36). Hector Sanchez’s game-winning single in the 11th ended the Giants’ nine-game home losing streak to the Marlins.
Miami (24-50) held a 1-0 lead in the fifth when Gregor Blanco’s drive to center field was snatched off the bounce by a fan. The home-plate umpire awarded Barry Zito, who had been on first base, home for the tying run, a decision Redmond disagreed with.
“I thought initially it was a ground-rule double. He called fan interference,” Redmond said. “I just didn’t think Barry Zito would have scored from first.”
Brandon Crawford was 0 for 4 after not starting in the last three games with two sprained fingers, while Andres Torres sat out after injuring his right knee on a slide in San Francisco’s 6-3 loss Friday. Manager Bruce Bochy said Torres may be able to play Sunday.
Logan Morrison (4 for 14) and Chris Coghlan (3 for 11) are the only Marlins hitting better than .250 with more than two at-bats against Cain. Two of Giancarlo Stanton’s three hits in 12 at-bats are home runs.
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