Matt Cain And Perfection | FanGraphs Baseball
Wendy Thurm on Matt Cain’s perfect game.
El Lefty Malo – Covering Los Gigantes since 2003.
“Retiring 27 Houston Astros in a row on a cool night in a friendly yard doesn’t prove anything, except that a guy with a hammer for an arm and a deep, cool reservoir inside can make baseball history with a little luck and a little help from his fast friends.”
Matt Cain is perfect « Bay City Ball – A Giants Blog
“We’ve heard all of those things, and yet, start after start, Matt Cain has always been a joy to watch. In the truest sense of the word, he’s become a pitcher. And a damned good one, too. And he’s our guy. He’s still our guy. And he’ll always be our guy.”
Bay Area Sports Guy – A Perfect Game for Matt Cain
“What was it like to watch Cain’s perfect game in the stands? First, it’s humbling to know we just saw something only 19 other crowds have witnessed since 1900. Second, AT&T Park felt like 2010 again — strangers were high-fiving each other and, for the first time in over a year, the crowd rose to the occasion and became part of the action again.”
50 Awesome Things About Matt Cain’s Perfect Game – McCovey Chronicles
Fifty awesome things about the Matt Cain perfect game. GIFs ahoy.
Joe Blogs: Cain Perfection
Joe Posnanski waxes poetic on Cain’s perfect game.
Matt Cain threw a perfect game tonight. I watched the game on television from start to finish and after it was all over, I had trouble collecting my thoughts. I was bombarded with all sorts of emotions — excitement, bliss, relief, disbelief…This was an event of such rarity and significance.
As the game progressed, the anticipation grew exponentially. More nervousness, anxiety, excitement. By the seventh inning, every pitch had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath.
I say this having watched no other perfect game from start to finish, but I can’t imagine a more nerve-wracking perfect game. Cain was so dominant tonight that it was almost his undoing, odd as it sounds. Nobody was reaching base, but since Cain was racking up the strikeouts — 14, to be exact, he also had a pretty high pitch count going. Through seven innings, Cain was already over 100 pitches on the night, averaging 4.9 pitches per plate appearance. I can’t remember exactly how many times he ran the count full, but every time it happened, I feared it would all end.
That wasn’t it, either. There was the ball Chris Snyder crushed into left field — I figured there was no chance that wouldn’t leave the yard. There was the magnificent diving catch Gregor Blanco made in the seventh inning to preserve the perfect game; even as Blanco was chasing that ball down and going in for the dive, I figured it was all over. It got to the point where even the routine grounders were moments of intense anxiety.
But Cain did it. With a little luck, a little help from his defense, and a whole lot of Matt Cain-ness, he retired 27 Houston Astros in order. And yes, they’re the Houston Astros, a 26-36 team, but they’ve also managed to put up league-average numbers against right-handed pitching this season – it wasn’t exactly an easy offense to tackle.
Anyway, I’m still trying to digest all of this. There’s an article up at the ESPN SweetSpot blog posing the following question: Did Matt Cain throw greatest game ever? That’s the kind of territory we’re in right now. That’s the kind of performance we all just witnessed. Matt Cain, ladies and gentlemen. Matt Cain.
This is a graph of Tim Lincecum‘s strikeout-to-walk ratio through the years. Ignore that last data point if you want — he’s only thrown thirty innings this season — but the trend is still the same. He peaked in 2009, when he was 25 years old. At this point, I think it’s pretty safe to expect Lincecum to never reach that point again.
Now here’s Matt Cain‘s graph. Again, ignore that last data point if you want, but the general point is clear: even as Cain has gotten older, he’s kept on goin’. He’s now 27 years old, and he’s already passed the point where he should’ve began his decline. Cain’s track record speaks for itself, but one of the main things that stands out to me is that he hasn’t started to drop off yet; in fact, one could argue that he’s improved. After today’s performance, his K/9 is at a career high, his BB/9 is at a career low, and his ERA is at a career low. Small samples be damned, his ability to stand the test of time has been wonderful, and it’s not something to take for granted. While Tim Lincecum’s future (both as a Giant and in general) is up in the air at this point, Cain is here for the long haul. After Madison Bumgarner‘s excellent start yesterday, there was a lot of talk about how Bumgarner had claimed the title of “most reliable Giants starter” or “best Giants starter so far.” Whatever it was, I think Cain stated his case pretty clearly today.
Cain didn’t get the win though, of course. But the offense did just enough to give the Giants the series victory. A couple players in particular stood out to me with their hitting today, and obviously they’re the two guys I can’t shut up about: Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera.
Pagan extended his hitting streak to 20 games, though he’s been getting by with a lot of .250/.250/.250 performances (meaningless 1-for4s). Today wasn’t one of those, as Pagan had two hits — one of them a well-struck double down the first base line — and got the Giants a very important run in the first inning by beating out a double play. Oh yeah, and he stole a base. His OBP is still in sub-.300 territory, but whatever. Fueled by an early power surge, he’s been above-average hitter thus far (105 wRC+). He dug himself a sizable hole at the beginning of the year with that first-week slump, but he’s already worked his way out of it and then some.
As for Melky, he put up a 1-for-5 — but that was only because he was robbed of a double in the tenth inning. Both of his hits — the actual one and the would-be one — were to the opposite field, too. In case you haven’t noticed, he’s pretty good at this opposite-field hitting business: since the start of 2011, he has 61 opposite-field hits.
And unlike Pagan, he’s been excellent with the glove: today’s notable was that 11th inning double play — he robbed Jonathan Lucroy of a bloop single then proceeded to double up Corey Hart at first base.
Pagan, meanwhile, continues to disappoint with his defense. I’m not sure if an average centerfielder catches Travis Ishikawa‘s ninth inning game-tying double. But I’m certain of the fact that Pagan is capable of getting to that ball if he takes a better route, and I also have no doubt that Andres Torres would have made that catch.
Entering the season, I felt the Giants had a top-notch defense; so far, that hasn’t been the case at all. Melky has been better than expected, and Emmanuel Burriss has shown a bit more range than I thought he had. But other than that, they’ve been utterly disappointing. Especially with the easy stuff — the routine plays. Bobbling grounders, failing to communicate in the outfield, et al. That’s exactly why I’m not too worried about this, though. I don’t think the Giants are fundamentally flawed on defense — it’s not as though they’re not getting to the ball in the first place, for example; they’re just making a few (costly) mistakes here and there. In other words, I don’t expect this to be a lingering issue.
Anyway, the Giants came away with the W, and sloppy as they were at times, a win is a win. Considering their next stop is LA, for the 18-10 Dodgers, it’s a good thing they were able to rebound and grab a couple wins to end this homestand.