But I didn't know he had the worst run support in the entire league since his first full season! lastcatastrophe always thought he would go postal one day and punch everyone out (deservedly so). :P
LOL I'm listening to The Game and Zito went home early because he's pitching a day game today (apparently this is common practice for day games following a night game). He texted Urban(?) "I'm watching the final out on TV. Fuck me."
Always able, perfect Cain steps out of the shadows on signature night
By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist
June 14, 2012 2:11 am ET
Matt Cain stood in the dugout soaking in a standing ovation from 42,298 hopelessly-in-love Giants fans, was asked about throwing the first perfect game in the 130-year history of the franchise, and he summarized it in one word.
"Wow!" he exclaimed to San Francisco television's Amy Gutierrez, appearing one-part dazed and one-part stunned.
Wow! It's what so many of us said while watching Cain mow down the Astros, striking out 14 in as dominating a perfect game as you'll ever see.
Wow! It's what anybody watching right fielder Gregor Blanco's across-the-miles dash followed by a fully extended diving catch on the gravelly warning track to start the seventh said, and for how many decades will they be talking about that play in San Francisco? Hint: Forever.
Wow! It's what everyone in baseball said this spring when the Giants signed Cain to a five-year, $112.5 million extension through the 2017 season.
That kind of dough for a pitcher with a lifetime record of 69-73?
Yes, yes and yes.
Cain, 27, for years has been baseball's Most Dangerous No. 2 starter. What he's been is a No. 1 in sheep's clothing. Lots of people just didn't recognize his disguise because of, well, um. ...
You know how the Sabermetricians preach the gospel of wins being overrated? That in today's game, wins too often are out of the control of a starting pitcher?
Anybody watching Cain slice and dice the Astros on a Wednesday night was looking at Exhibit A.
Since his first full major-league season in 2006, Cain has received the worst run support of any starter in the majors at 3.91 runs per game.
Into Wednesday night, when the Giants scored at least three runs of support for him, Cain was 64-9.
Sixty-four ... and ... nine.
Cain always has had the ability plow through his opponent like a mule through a farmer's field, as evidenced by the fact that he's started 30 or more games in each of his six full seasons, he's never missed a start because of injury and, since 2006, entering this season, he ranked seventh in the majors with 1,271 innings pitched.
He's always had the ability to dominate opposing lineups. Witness the five times before Wednesday that he's taken a no-hitter into the seventh inning (his closest call, before Wednesday, was 7 2/3 innings).
He's always been able to step up in pressure situations, as anyone who remembers the 2010 post-season can attest, when he threw seven shutout innings against the Phillies in Game 3 of the NLCS and then went 7 2/3 shutout innings against the Rangers in Game 2 of the World Series.
Cain is that rare combination of workhorse + staff ace, and it's showing up again in this, the year of Tim Lincecum's struggles.
Pressing to stay close to the Dodgers in the NL West, the Giants are 2-11 in games started by Lincecum this season.
But while Suddenly Tiny Tim frantically sorts through issues to find his former Cy Young stuff, Cain's steadiness has kept the Giants on track.
He's 8-2 with a 2.18 ERA through his first 13 starts. The Giants are 10-3 in those starts.
Over his past four starts, including arguably the greatest pitching performance in Giants history, Cain's ERA is 0.59.
"Obviously, we can talk about the sixth and seventh innings, those two unbelievable catches," Cain said of grabs by Blanco and left fielder Melky Cabera, a running catch at the left-field wall to haul in Chris Snyder's drive in the sixth. "That changes the whole thing."
No question, it did. As did manager Bruce Bochy's sharp defensive moves late, inserting shortstop Brandon Crawford and moving Joaquin Arias from short to third. No way Pablo Sandoval makes the play to end the game on Jason Castro's ground ball the way Arias did.
It was a sensational night. It was spine-tingling and nerve-wracking.
Cain threw 125 pitches. He had only four three-ball counts all night. His 14 strikeouts equaled those of Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax against the Cubs in 1965 as the most whiffs ever in a perfect game.
"I literally felt everybody on the mound with me, the whole stadium," Cain said of his emotions following Blanco's catch. "It was electric.
"I had to find a way to calm down. Somehow, it worked."
Somehow. But not by accident.
This was the signature moment of Cain's career, the night he stepped out from behind Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito and whomever else he's played second-fiddle to during six-plus seasons in San Francisco.
Cain, after this night, is in nobody's shadow.
I think Amy G got a little weepy last night, but not as bad as for Jonathan Sanchez's no hitter. But man he had his dad there hugging him and stuff! I think everyone got weepy.
With perfect game comes Cain's recognition at last
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Even in a sport that lends itself to hyperbole, there is no reasonable way to watch a player in his big-league debut and argue that he is destined for greatness. Baseball has chewed up and spit out more "future Hall of Famers" than there are stars visible in the sky.
So I won't sit here after Cain's auspicious night and say I watched his debut on Aug. 29, 2005, and thought, "Now here's a guy who's going to do fantastic things."
Still, there was one moment - really, a long several moments - that forcibly grabbed your attention. Cain had to face Colorado's Todd Helton, then one of the game's most dangerous left-handed hitters.
Here was this kid of 20, barely out of high school - and if you think Cain has a baby face now, imagine what it looked like then - who was pulling every trick out of his bag trying to retire a guy who would lead the league with a .445 on-base percentage that year.
Cain fell behind 3-1 and kept dealing, but Helton kept fouling off pitches. The at-bat grew to eight pitches, then 10, then 12, then 13. The crowd in China Basin really started buzzing, not as much as they did Wednesday night, but buzzing nonetheless.
Finally, on the 14th pitch, Cain got Helton to hit a flyball to left for the out.
Cain lost his major-league debut but immediately gained something more important. Five innings into his major-league career, Cain had the respect of every man on the field, describing him with a word that means as much to a player as any trophy:
In the seven seasons since, Giants fans have seen the proof.
Fearlessness does not equal success, of course. As I watched on television as Cain threw the first perfect game in franchise history - thanks for the night off, boss - a lot of memories came forth.
I recalled that when Cain struggled so badly just three seasons ago, the way Tim Lincecum is now, the Giants pulled him from the rotation for one start so he could catch his breath and watch. In his first start back, against Oakland, he threw the first of his three career one-hitters.
I recalled how fitness became a serious issue with Cain. Like so many young players who were successful in short high school and college seasons, he needed to learn the hard way that nobody can succeed over a 162-game season unless he prepared his body for the rigors. Cain needed to be pushed in that direction.
Mostly, of course, I thought about the dozens of games in which he pitched well enough to win but lost, or had no decision, for want of one or two runs by a terrible Giants offense.
After the Giants went ahead 7-0 against the Astros on Wednesday, I tweeted a joke: "The Giants tonight have scored as many runs for Cain as they did from 2006-09. #Fact."
He actually entered the baseball lexicon. To be "Cained" is to throw lights-out but lose a 1-0 or 2-1 game.
In 2007-08, Cain won 15 games and lost 30 even with an earned-run average well below 4.00.
So, as I watched a baseball news program Wednesday afternoon and heard the analysts declare that Cain is the most underrated pitcher in the game, I instantly knew why.
San Francisco fans knew, too. They winced in frustration at each undeserved loss and started to understand the bigger picture. In the middle to late part of the last decade, as the Giants began to wean themselves from Barry Bonds and feel the hangover of a win-now, forget-later philosophy, they were not going to be a very good team for years.
The rebirth would have to start with youth, and Cain, taken in the first round of the 2002 draft, was the fearless kid who was asked to lead the charge.
Five years after Cain got the best of Helton in that stirring debut matchup, he helped lead the Giants to their first World Series title in San Francisco. In three postseason games covering 21 1/3 innings he did not allow an earned run.
Cain finally earned a just reward for his difficult labors, a World Series ring. Just before this season, he earned a nine-figure contract. But truth be told, he still had not earn the national recognition he deserved.
On Wednesday night, he finally did.
This is pretty much all of the stuff I was thinking about last night. Well not his debut because I don't think I was even following Giants baseball back then. But all the stuff that he's gone through over the years. I couldn't be happier for him.