11-season Major League veteran Matt Cain, who authored one of the greatest single-seasons in Fresno Grizzlies history 11 years ago, returned to Chukchansi Park in Downtown Fresno Saturday night for the second time in two seasons as a member of the Sacramento River Cats. Making a rehab start, the Grizzlies defeated Cain for the second time in three tries over the last two seasons, winning the penultimate home game of the season 6-2. The better of the two starters was certainly Fresno's Evan Grills however, making his home debut in just his second Triple-A game, ensuring a big early lead for the Grizz would stick.
A season ago, the Grizzlies defeated Cain and fellow Giants ace Jake Peavy on rehab in consecutive games, June 15-16 at Raley Field in Sacramento. Cain struck back on June 25, 2015 defeating the Grizz at Chukchansi Park.
The Grizzlies pounced on Cain and the River Cats with an 11-batter, six-hit, five-run third inning with a walk and an error. Jon Kemmer's RBI double, and RBI singles from Tyler White (2-for-5), Colin Moran and Max Stassi were the run-scoring hits. For Kemmer, it was his fourth double in three games. Andrew Aplin (1-for-2, run, two walks, stolen base) also doubled in the third.
Still leading 5-0 in the fifth, Moran crushed an opposite field solo homer to left field off Cain, his 10th home run of the season. That was the exclamation point on a 3-for-4 night with two RBI and two runs scored for the Grizzlies' third baseman.
Cain ended up throwing 105 pitches (68 strikes) in five innings of work, allowing 10 hits, six runs (four earned) with two walks and four strikeouts. Taking the loss, he dropped to 1-1 in the PCL this season with a 5.06 ERA in two Triple-A starts. At age 20 in 2005, Cain pitched nearly a full-season with Fresno, making 26 starts before making his big league debut later that season with the Giants (seven starts). In 145.2 innings pitched for the Grizzlies in 2005, Cain struck out a single-season franchise record 176 batters.
The lefty Grills (1-1) was superb for Fresno, tossing 6.2 shutout innings. He scattered five harmless hits, a lone walk, and struck out eight batters including Giants outfielder Mac Williamson twice, who has also spent this series on a MLB rehab assignment with the River Cats. Williamson struck back in the eighth against the Grizz bullpen though, lifting his 11th Triple-A homer of the season, a two-run shot to left field for the only runs of the night for the 'Cats.
The victory improved Fresno to 8-3 this season against their rivals to the north, and they're 19-8 against Sacramento in two seasons as a Houston Astros affiliate. The finale of this five-game series (tied 2-2), and the final home game this season for the Grizzlies will be Sunday at 5:05 p.m. Right-handers Clayton Blackburn (Sacramento) and Keegan Yuhl (Fresno) will face off on the mound.