I have to admit I feel like less of a Giants fan since our fearless leader beat me to the punch. Curse you Rob!!! Still as a San Franciscan, I feel obligated to share my thoughts on the first perfect game in San Francisco Giants, but also where it ranks among the 21 other perfect games in MLB history.
Some are calling it one of, if not THE, greatest pitching performance in baseball history. To say it was impressive is an understatement. Cain had complete control of all his pitches, spotting them all around the strike zone and keeping Astro hitters on their toes all night long. That mastery led to 14 strikeouts, tieing Sandy Koufax for the all time lead of Ks in a perfect game. He even helped his cause at the plate, sacrificing Joaquin Arias to 3rd in the bottom of the 2nd, who would then score on Gregor Blanco’s groundout. Cain also singled in the 5th and scored when Blanco hit a 2 run blast. Those two plate appearances probably got lost in the mix of a rare offensive outburst from the Giants, who scored 10 runs in total. He was also helped by some great defensive plays, including Blanco’s diving catch while seemingly running across the whole of the outfield.
What makes Cain’s pitching performance even more impressive is the way he handled it afterwards. He talked more about what his teammates did then himself. It just shows how humble a guy Cain really is, and he’s been like that his whole career. Where Lincecum might get more of the media attention, Cain will quietly be turning in solid performances, even if it doesn’t always reflect in his record. Management signing him to that extension is looking like a smart decision. Plus if Cain keeps pitching the way he has this season, he might end up with the Cy Young.
So where’s the 22nd perfect game in baseball history rank among its 21 predecessors? Considering he tied Koufax’s strikeout record it has to be high up there. Koufax’s perfect game was very impressive, but what gives Cain the slight edge is that he pitches in an era where runs are seemingly more plentiful. Some might say the quality of the team Cain faced lowers the prestige of his performance and that Koufax had to face the likes of Ron Santo and Ernie Banks. I don’t buy that argument. Just because a team is perceived to be ‘bad’ doesn’t mean that they’ll always turn in a bad performance. On any given night, even the worst team in the league can beat the best and to belittle Cain’s performance because the Astros ‘aren’t a real team’ is an insult. That being said, Cain’s perfect game ranks 2nd all time. That’s because Don Larsen’s perfection came during the World Series. Being that dominant in that environment is worth the #1 perfect game of all time. Still Cain turning in one of the most dominant pitching performances of all time etches his name in Giants and baseball lore.