Facing Cain certainly offers a challenge to the Cardinals, who come off back-to-back wins after dropping four games in a row. The Giants ace has filled every bit of that title despite a 2-2 record this season and comes off a win against the D-backs on May 12 in which he allowed one earned run on three hits with eight strikeouts over six innings. Cain preceded the outing by allowing two earned runs with 10 strikeouts over seven innings on May 6.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny knows firsthand what awaits his lineup, having caught Cain during the right-hander's early days in the Giants' rotation.
"I remember catching his first game and I've seen him develop into a superstar," said Matheny, who in 2005-06 caught Cain while with the Giants. "He would follow Jason Schmidt and myself around and ask questions."
The level of competition in Thursday's start could be just what Wainwright needs to bounce back from a disappointing outing. Wainwright lasted just 4 1/3 innings in a loss last Saturday. The right-hander surrendered five earned runs on nine hits and five walks. After tossing seven innings of one-run ball in a win on May 6, Wainwright acknowledged he needs to be and can be better.
"I've not been great this year," said Wainwright after his last start. "I will be, and I'm going to continue to go out there and grind and make pitches."
After missing all of 2011, Wainwright appeared to have settled down prior to his last outing. After taking a loss in his first three starts of the season, Wainwright went 2-0 in his following three starts, posting a 2.70 (6 earned runs in 20 innings) before he was roughed up by the Braves last week.
AT&T Park has not been kind to Wainwright during his career. The right-hander is 1-3 in four games (three starts) in San Francisco, with a 4.32 ERA and a .312 opponents' batting average.
Cardinals: Craig crushing the ball
Carlos Beltran has received a great amount of recognition for his recent outburst, but Allen Craig has provided plenty of thump as well. After missing all of April, Craig is hitting .372 (19-for-51) with five home runs and 19 RBIs this month. The utility man has recorded three multihit games in his last four starts and tallied multiple RBIs in 10 of the 13 games he has played in this season.
Rafael Furcal is hitting .456 (26-for-57) with two home runs and eight RBIs in May. His .370 average for the season is best among all Major League shortstops and ranks third in all of baseball.
Giants: Romo holding down the fort
The Giants lost closer Brian Wilson for the season, but Sergio Romo helped ease the stress on the bullpen. Romo has not allowed a run all season and has held the opposition to seven hits in 10 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, the right-hander has struck out 13 and walked only three batters. Romo has allowed just one earned run in his last 33 2/3 innings (0.27) in his last 43 games dating back to June 30, 2010.
The Giants are 14-0 when leading after seven innings.
Lance Berkman has four RBIs in 11 at-bats versus Cain, and Beltran is 6-for-15 with four RBIs off the right-hander.