The poker face has been there through tough defeats and a perfect game, 90-loss seasons and championship runs. Matt Cain is always unflappable, and he had no reaction but a shrug of the shoulders when peppered about a shocking start to his 2013 season.

"I don't even remember the first half," Cain said flatly. "I'm trying to get rid of it. You remember what went on, but you try to just kind of blank it out."

The statistics tell a story Cain would like to tear from the books. He had a 5.06 ERA in 19 first-half starts -- including his first opening-day selection -- and failed to make it out of the third inning in his final two starts before the All-Star break. As much as Cain wants to blank out the results, he can't forget what they did to the Giants. As the rotation crumbled, so did the hopes for a repeat.

"We didn't carry the load that we needed to last year," Cain said. "We know that if we get off to a good start, that's going to help (the lineup). We knew we needed to step it up, and we didn't do a good job with that."

As the Giants arrived in Scottsdale with four-fifths of their 2013 rotation back in place, Cain stressed the importance of "getting it started in the spring and (pushing) that on."

He did his part Wednesday, giving up just a harmless double in three innings of a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Through 17 Cactus League innings, the starters have given up just one run, nine hits and one walk.

"We all kind of know what we need to do," Cain said.

It took far too long for Cain to start his own personal push a year ago. By the time he reclaimed his role as an ace, the Giants were buried, able to do nothing but watch the Los Angeles Dodgers cruise into the postseason.