video thumbnail

MIA@SF: Cain fans seven en route to first 2014 win

The rich get richer Friday.

Owners of baseball's best record at 39-21, the Giants are set to regain the services of right-hander Matt Cain on Friday night. The three-time All-Star returns to the mound recovered from a strained right hamstring that caused him to miss two starts, further bolstering a staff that boasts the league's third-lowest team ERA.

On the heels of a seven-game Midwestern road trip that saw the Giants go 5-2 against the Cardinals and Reds, Friday night's matchup against the visiting New York Mets opens a 10-game, 10-day homestand for the Giants, who have dominated inside AT&T Park this season. Their 19-9 home record is tops in the bigs.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday that Cain was "good to go" for Friday night's start, following Cain's 70-pitch bullpen session early in the week.

Cain, 29, was injured May 21 when he pitched three hitless innings at Colorado. That injury forced him onto the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season. He was sidelined in late April with a cut on the tip of his right index finger.

Having missed four starts during his stints on the DL, Cain is 1-3 with a 3.66 ERA in eight starts this season. He's 5-5 with a 3.57 ERA in 12 career starts against the Mets.

He'll be opposed on the mound by lefty Jon Niese.

Through 11 starts, the 27-year-old is having a career season, with just a 3-3 record but a career-low ERA of 2.69 through 70 1/3 innings. His 1.1180 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) stands as the second-best mark of his career.

Niese has been a consistent force in New York's rotation, throwing six-plus innings in eight of his 11 starts. He has yet to allow more than three earned runs in an outing this season.

Niese is 1-2 with a 2.96 ERA in five career appearances [four starts] against the Giants. He last faced the Giants last September, allowing just two earned runs in seven innings.

Giants: Niese previously not too nice to Giants hitters
Driving to the park is easier for a batter on days when he knows he has the opposing starting pitcher's number. Friday won't be one of those days for many Giants.

That's because the hitters on San Francisco's roster have hit a combined .244 (22-for-90) against the left-hander during the last five seasons.

San Francisco outfielder Hunter Pence rues his at-bats against Niese, hitting a woeful .115 (3-for-26).

"He's just a great pitcher," Pence said. "He has a good fastball, a good curve, a good changeup. He just has good stuff."

Other Giants regulars who have struggled against Niese are Michael Morse at .200 (3-for-15) and Angel Pagan at .125 (1-for-8).

Mets: Shortstops one-upping each other
On Wednesday, two days after Wilmer Flores hit a grand slam against the Phillies, Ruben Tejada hit his second home run in a week.

After the Mets promoted Flores early last month to take Tejada's starting shortstop job, both players have been performing at a high level, giving manager Terry Collins a welcome problem to grapple with on a daily basis: who to start at short?

So far, Collins sees no reason to give the job to one or the other, preferring to use the opportunity to give both regular at-bats and regular rest.

"I hope they keep swinging the way they're swinging," Collins said. "[I can] give them a day off, keep them fresh."

Collins also lauded Flores' defensive work, which most scouts perceived as a significant weakness heading into the season.

Worth noting
• Giants bench coach Ron Wotus had to leave the club Thursday to attend to a family matter. Bochy said Wotus would rejoin the club Friday in San Francisco.

• Home runs from Brandon Crawford and Michael Morse on Thursday upped the Giants' tally to 68 on the season. Through June 5 last season, the Giants had hit 43; they finished with 107 dingers.

• The end of Dillon Gee's time on the disabled list with a lat strain is not yet in sight. He was shut down after suffering a setback late in May, unable to throw a bullpen session due to discomfort. Gee's last start was May 10.

"Obviously it was more than we thought it was going to be," Collins said. "When his body tells him it's time and he's OK, he'll resume. When that is, I don't know that anybody knows for sure." Comments