Thursday, June 14, 2012

The 22nd Perfect Game

If you asked a MLB pitcher in pregame interviews if he can pitch a perfect game, he'd scoff at you.

"That's a clown question, bro."

A perfect game is almost a miracle. It takes the rarest of ingredients to create, and usually a pinch of luck goes a long, long way in the game.

Last night, Matt Cain (8-2) of the San Francisco Giants completed the astonishing feat, striking out 14 Astros batters, tying Sandy Koufax's record for most strikeouts in a perfect game.

Cain becomes the first Giants pitcher to accomplish a perfecto, spanning 130 years of the franchise's history.

There are a lot of things you can say negative about the game. You can complain about the strike zone being too loose, or the bad calls at first base or how the Astros are so bad that anyone could pitch a perfect game against them.

And you'd also be wrong on all three accounts.

Cain had UNREAL control of his fastball AND his change-up last night, keeping batters on their heels with every single pitch. He was ahead in the count with over 20 batters, and as the game wore on, the Astros began pressing at the plate.

Having seen the Astros play in person, they are definitely not the loathsome 2011 club and have a lot of young talent. Unfortunately for them, they just couldn't get it going. 

It also helps that the Giants defense also played perfectly, often the catalyst for goose-eggs. When Mark Buehrle pitched his perfect game with the White Sox, it was DeWayne Wise to the rescue with his sprinting, off-the-wall catch. Cain's savior was Gregor Blanco, who usually plays RF but was moved to CF for this game. His catch over the back in the 7th inning was Willie Mays reincarnate. Melky Cabrera, who is making a very strong MVP case, played stellar defense in LF, gobbling up foul balls and warning-track bombs. The infield played fast all night, as Cain continued to jam batters into pitiful grounders and high fly-balls.

And Buster Posey? Remarkable. After his brutal collision at the plate last year, Posey has stormed back with an incredible season behind the plate, just surpassing Yadier Molina in All-Star votes for the NL starting catcher. His calls last night allowed Cain to keep the pressure on until the very last pitch.

Cain was unrelenting, unjust, unbelievable, unshakeable. He pitched a damned good game.

It was just enough to be perfect.

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