Matt Cain pitched the first perfect game in the history of the San Francisco Giants franchise Wednesday night. Philip Humber of the White Sox had the first perfect game of the season against the Seattle Mariners on April 21. It marked the fifth no hitter of the season, the first time that five no hitters have been thrown before June 15 since 1917.
Cain was dominant in the contest, fanning 14 Astros hitters, which tied Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax for the most strikeouts in a perfect game. He threw 125 pitches, 86 strikes, and faced only four three-ball counts in the game, the last coming on a 3-2 pitch in the eighth inning.
There were a couple of tense moments where it appeared the perfect game would be washed away with one swing. With one out in the sixth, Houston catcher Chris Snyder blasted a drive that seemed like it was headed for the left field bleachers. A combination of the thick, heavy San Francisco air and Melky Cabrera’s glove work provided the opening defensive gem of the night. Cabrera leaped and made the catch with his back scraping the wall.
That play was overshadowed by one of the greatest defensive plays in recent memory an inning later. Jordan Schafer led off with a scorching shot to deep right center field, the section of AT&T Park known as Triples Alley. Gregor Blanco, a center fielder by trade who plays right field for the Giants, raced to try and track down the drive. Blanco laid out in the right center field gap with a diving grab on the warning track to retire Schafer and keep the perfect game intact. Cain hugged Blanco in the dugout after the half inning came to a close.
According to Bill James’ system for scoring pitching performances, Cain’s score of 101 was tied with Koufax for the highest score in a perfect game. Nolan Ryan posted a game score of 101 with his seventh no hitter in 1990, while the highest game score of all time was 105, recorded by Kerry Wood in a one hit, 20 strikeout performance against the Astros in 1998. Cain became the second Giants pitcher to throw a no hitter against the Astros; Juan Marichal accomplished the feat on June 15, 1963 when Houston was known as the Colt .45s.
Cain signed a lucrative six year, $127.5 million extension earlier this year that made him the highest paid right handed starter in the majors. He’s paid dividends for the Giants so far this season, going 8-2 with a 2.18 earned run average. He leads the National League in innings pitched with 95, in complete games and shutouts with two, in WHIP with a 0.853 stat and in strikeout to walk ratio with a 6:1 number. He pitched a one hit shutout against the Pirates in his second start of the season and pitched nine innings in a 1-0 11 innings win over the Phillies this season as well.
Do you think Cain’s performance was the most dominant of all time?