The day was August 18, 2010. It was a Wednesday afternoon game between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. It was a beautiful day, not real humid and a good crowd for a mid-week day game. I wanted to get to St. Louis for a game to get some player audio for an upcoming story I was working on and I figured I could help out my buddy Bill Scott at a sister network, Wisconsin Radio Network, by getting some Brewers audio. So I picked this game…worked in my schedule.
Adam Wainwright was going up against lefty Randy Wolf and I didn’t pay much attention to the Brewers lineup that day other than Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder were hitting 3rd and cleanup. Little did I know that over the next couple of hours, there would be another player I would remember most about that game.
Batting sixth that day was a 24 year old center fielder Lorenzo Cain, just called up to the Brewers at the end of July.
Cain led off the top of the fifth and fell behind 1-2 in the count to Wainwright before smoking a line drive to the gap for a double. I was sitting up in the press box and my impression of Cain was that he was a skinny, lanky looking type of player, but man, he ripped the ball. Cain later stole third off Yadier Molina. He scored on a single and Milwaukee led 1-0.
In the early innings I was also watching him chase down long bombs that were hit over his head that he tracked down and made them look routine.
In the top of the seventh, Wainwright is out there still, trailing in a 1-0 game with a runner on first when Cain comes again and just laces another one to deep center. I couldn’t believe how fast he motored around the bases with an RBI triple. He later scored on a sac fly (by Alcides Escobar) and Milwaukee was up 3-0. The Brewers eventually held on for a 3-2 win, but I remember seeing Cain standing on third, thinking, “This kid’s gonna be good someday.”
Never thought much more about Cain or that game for that matter until the offseason when I heard the Royals had traded Zack Greinke to the Brewers. At work that week and over the next several, there were co-workers who were bummed out that the Royals were letting another prized possession get away. I tried to reassure them. I told them about how I watched this Cain kid in St. Louis. I told them he was a steal in this deal. He’s going to be a real good player. He’s got something.
Well, it didn’t start out that way. Cain struggled with injuries that limited him to 61 games in 2012 and he was fairly healthy until he suffered an oblique strain in August of 2013. Even in April of this year, he was on the DL for groin strain. The label Injury Prone stuck with Cain. When I heard the news, I thought “Boy, did I miss on that guy.”
However, he came back in May and by the end of the month raised his average 38 points to .339 when he rattled off 12 hits in the span of six games. Cain’s average dropped under .300, but near the end of the year, he had a big game against the Indians going 4 for 5 with two doubles in a 6-3 win. He went up to .304 and finished the season at .301, the best of his career. He was also healthy.
This postseason he’s 12 of 34 with three doubles and three RBIs. He hit .533 against the Orioles in this four game sweep and he’s made a career highlight reel in the outfield in these last eight games. Royals fans are starting the see the talent that I saw in one afternoon game four year ago. Now, for me to see Cain reach the potential I thought he had is exciting to see.