What the heck has gotten in to pitchers?
The 2012 season isn’t even three months old and we’ve already seen five no-hitters — including a pair of perfect games.
San Francisco righty Matt Cain joined the list with a dazzling, 14-strikeout perfect game on Wednesday night against the Astros in one of the most dominant no-hit performances in recent memory.
Cain’s big night comes two months after Philip Humber achieved perfection against the Mariners and only five nights after six Seattle pitchers combined to no-hit the Dodgers. And in a season in which the Johan Santana gave the Mets the first no-hitter in their 51-year history , the number of no-hitters across baseball could eclipse seven — the modern era high mark achieved in 1990 and 1991.
And if the Mets successfully appeal the first-inning chopper that cost MLB wins leader R.A. Dickey his own no-hitter last night against Tampa Bay, it could happen sooner rather than later.
Cain needed 125 pitches, 86 of which he threw for strikes, to mow down the hapless Houston offense and give the Giants the first perfect game in franchise history. His pitch count was the highest ever among baseball’s 22 perfect games.
“It felt like the World Series, but it almost felt a little bit louder, a little bit crazier,” he said. “It was truly amazing.
“I’ve never had that much excitement in every pitch, every strike, every swing.”
As is often the case, Cain benefitted from a pair of stellar plays from his defense. In the sixth, Melky Cabrera made a leaping catch at the wall to snag Chris Snyder’s one-out flyball. The following inning, right fielder Gregor Blanco made a diving catch in deep right-center to steal an extra-base hit from Jordan Schafer and keep the sheet clean for Cain.
He got pinch-hitter Jason Castro to ground out to third for the final out of the game, which triggered a standing ovation from the sellout crowd and a message on the center field scoreboard that read: “MATT CAIN First Perfect Game in Giants Franchise History.”
Cain had a pair of close calls earlier this season. He one-hit the Pirates in the team’s home opener on April 13 and then gave up only two hits over nine innings in an 11-inning win over the Phillies.
“I’ve had some opportunities in the past,” Cain said. “There’s really nothing like it.”
An already great year is only getting better for Cain, who signed a $127.5 million, six-year contract with the Giants in April. And before Wednesday’s game, he was granted permission to drive a golf ball into McCovey Cove with U.S. golfer Dustin Johnson, who begins play in the U.S. Open today at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Others in the no-hit club were quick to congratulate Cain on his induction, including Oakland’s Dallas Braden, who tossed a surprising no-hitter in 2010.
What a beautiful game. Congrats 2 Matt Cain & a historic franchise & city. A special memory ill tell someones kids about!#eraofthepitcher— Dallas Braden (@DALLASBRADEN209) June 14, 2012
And if you’re a team looking to ensure a no-hitter of your own, here’s one guy worth adding in the offseason.
I have been teammates with 3 of the last 5 pitchers to throw a perfect game#goodteammate— David Aardsma (@TheDA53) June 14, 2012