Five times in his rock-solid career, Matt Cain carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Wednesday night, Cain took it all the way. And then some.
In a dominating display of precision and power, Matt Cain pitched the first perfect game in Giants history against the Houston Astros. Cain’s flawless performance rightly overshadowed a 10-run explosion by the offense in a win for the record books.
By the top of the sixth, everything was working for Cain. The break on his off-speed pitch was sharp and vexing. His fast ball, rising and full of late, unhittable action.
No perfect game happens without heroic flashes of stellar defense. In the bottom of the seventh, Gregor Blanco dove into the deepest reaches of center field to make the game-saving catch of the season off the bat of Jordan Schafer. Cain tipped his cap to the white shark as the AT&T crowd roared in approval.
By the time Cain painted the inside corner against Brett Wallace for his 14th strikeout in the bottom of the eighth, the sellout crowd at AT&T could barely stay in their seats. A ten-run lead and a roaring crowd buoyed Cain as he walked off the field after setting down 24 consecutive Astros.
In the top of the ninth, two harmless fly balls to left by Bryan Bogusevic and Chris Snyder set up a tense at bat with pinch hitter Jason Castro. Opening Castro up with a strike, Castro looked at ball one, and then strike two, at the knees.
With 42,000-plus at AT&T on their feet, Castro struck a solid grounder to deep third. Joaquin Arias gobbled up the ball, and powered his throw to Brandon Belt at first to seal history for Matt Cain.
The Giants swarmed Cain at the mound, who finally pumped his fist in the air, seeming to express an entire career worth of pent-up emotion.
A sweating, elated Matt Cain was still in disbelief as he told CSN Bay Area’s Amy Gutierrez and the the entire AT&T crowd:
“In the seventh when Blanco makes that catch in center field, I literally felt everybody on the mound out there with me. It was going, the whole stadium was electric. Wow. It was unbelievable. I needed to find a way to calm down. Somehow it worked.”
For eight seasons, the “Horse” of the Giants staff has slung nasty stuff while suffering through toothless run support. All but one of his four seasons with double-digit wins have been accompanied by double-digit losses as well.
The Giants’ first-round pick in 2002 has a career 3.30 ERA over eight seasons. His stoic demeanor and lunchpail work ethic have made Cain a quiet fan favorite and unsung anchor of the Giants’ starting staff.