DETROIT — If Matt Cain didn’t have bad luck away from AT&T Park, he’d have no luck at all.
The veteran right-handed starter had his second road quality start in grasp on Tuesday, but he and George Kontos couldn’t complete the seventh and the San Francisco Giants’ six-game winning streak ended with a 5-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
“That was a tough one today … especially the way we’ve been playing,” Cain confessed afterward.
It didn’t seem like that was going to be the case from the start, though.
Coming into the series opener, Tigers starter Michael Fulmer logged 73.2 consecutive innings without giving up a home run. The All-Star’s streak ended in the first inning when Hunter Pence lifted a 97.5 mph fastball over the wall in the deepest part of Comerica Park. It was a welcome sight for the starting right fielder who had just one extra-base hit since his last long ball on June 21.
Brandon Crawford ensured Fulmer’s next streak between allowing four-baggers wouldn’t last long. The shortstop pulled a two-run homer in the seventh to tie the game, 3-3.
Crawford was another player who was in need of some positive results at the plate. He’s 7-for-55 over his last 13 games and has been struggling to recreate his impressive first half of last season.
“Crawford’s home run, that’s huge,” manager Bruce Bochy said from his office. “We’re facing a pretty good pitcher there. If you can go into the seventh tied, you take it.”
Cain navigated 6.1 innings, minimizing damage despite allowing seven hits and a walk. But after he exited in the seventh, Kontos allowed a bad-luck infield single to catcher Alex Avila to load the bases. The Giants were in an extreme shift that Avila ripped a groundball into. Joe Panik couldn’t complete the play to first despite flashing impressive range to get to the ball.
Bochy said the conditions on the field played into that outcome as the ground around the plate was so hard, it sped up anything played through the infield grass.
The pair of inherited baserunners that Kontos took on both scored one hitter later when Justin Upton grooved a single into left.
“It’s tough,” Cain said about coming out of the game and having the result fall apart as he sat in the dugout.
Upton was a problem for Giants pitchers all game. He finished 3-for-3 with two doubles and a walk.
Once San Francisco lost the lead a second time, its lineup didn’t challenge to regain it. Fulmer and Justin Wilson combined to complete the last two innings in order.
“They got a couple breaks there in the seventh inning and that was the difference in the game,” Bochy said.
Cain’s fond memories of Detroit
The last time Cain threw at Comerica Park, it was in the clinching game of the 2012 World Series, when San Francisco swept Detroit.
In that contest, he lasted seven innings, allowing three runs while striking out five.
“It definitely brings back the memories,” Cain said about taking the mound.
One major difference (apart from the implications) between his two starts in the Motor City: the temperature. In 2012, the temperature at first pitch was 44 degrees. On Tuesday, it was about 74.
“You don’t get rid of those memories,” Cain said. “You have those special moments where you go to other parks the same way, those things are ingrained in you and that’s the cool part that’ll never leave when baseball is over.”