Ten memorable moments for Giants great Matt Cain
Matt Cain wants Saturday to be as normal as possible. He’s hoping to avoid the pre-game festivities and go out and give the organization one more gem. That’s something he has done more than just about any pitcher in franchise history, so before Cain takes the mound one final time, let’s count down some of his more memorable starts in a 13-year career...
Cain broke through as a top prospect on August 29, 2005, and at 20 years, 332 days old, he became the youngest Giant to start a game since 1984. He went five solid innings in a 2-1 loss to the Rockies and had a memorable battle with Todd Helton. The Rockies star fouled off eight straight 3-2 pitches in a 14-pitch at-bat before Cain got him to fly out to left on his final pitch of the game. "He has electric stuff,” catcher Mike Matheny. “The kind of stuff you don't see very often.”
Sign of Things to Come
Cain took five no-hitters into the seventh before getting his perfect game in 2012. This May 21, 2006 start wasn’t one of them, but it was the first truly brilliant start of his career. The 21-year-old had his previous start skipped to work out some mechanical issues, and he responded with a one-hit shutout against the A’s in Oakland. It was the first of six career shutouts.
Chicks Dig the Long Ball
Early in his career, Cain was occasionally a two-way threat. He hit multiple homers in 2007 and 2008 and finished with seven in his career. The first came in a 5-0 win over the Nationals on August 8, 2007. Cain traded a bat and a ball for the souvenir, which came on the same night Barry Bonds hit No. 757. Oh, Cain also pitched six shutout innings.
This one fits right in with Cain’s regular-season career, as he pitched well but watched the Giants take the loss. Cain scattered seven hits over 6 2/3 innings of his first postseason start, allowing just an unearned run. He struck out six. The Giants led 4-0 early but the bullpen blew it. Still, this was the start of a special postseason career for Cain, who had just turned 26.
2010 World Series Game 2
Cain spent several nervous days preparing for Game 7 of the NLCS. When the Giants beat the Phillies in six, he got Game 2 of the World Series instead, and he was dominant. The 7 2/3 innings still stand as Cain’s longest postseason outing. He gave up just four hits and didn’t allow a run before handing the ball over to Javier Lopez. The Giants blasted the Rangers 9-0 and Cain put himself in the record books, completing a postseason with a 0.00 ERA. Only three pitchers have thrown more scoreless innings in one postseason than Cain’s 21 1/3 in 2010.
Cain ended up pitching just about a full season (34 appearances) against the rival Dodgers, and he fared pretty well. He finished just 7-11, but posted a 3.35 ERA in 204 innings. Cain had to wait a while, though, for the first victory on his record. He finally beat the Dodgers on August 1, 2010, throwing 7 2/3 shutout innings to edge Clayton Kershaw and complete a crucial sweep.
Cain twice got Cained while throwing nine innings, but the Giants won both games in extra innings. The win on April 18, 2012 was particularly memorable because it was such a great battle between Cain and Phillies lefty Cliff Lee. Cain gave up two hits in nine innings; Lee pitched 10 innings and allowed seven hits. Melky Cabrera clinched a 1-0 win with a walk-off single in the 11th. “I haven’t seen two pitchers pitch that well,” Bruce Bochy said afterward. The amazing game was over in two hours, 27 minutes.
On June 13, 2012, Cain pitched the first perfect game in franchise history and 22nd in MLB history. He struck out 14, tying Sandy Koufax's record for strikeouts in a perfect game. Gregor Blanco made a diving catch on a night Cain said was even louder than World Series starts. "There's really nothing like it," he said afterward. "This is awesome."
A month after his perfect game, Cain got the nod to start the All-Star Game in Kansas City, alongside Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Melky Cabrera. He gave up one hit and struck out one in two shutout innings, and he was the winning pitcher.
NLDS Game 5
Cain says this was the most nervous start of his career because he had several days to think about the possibility of capping the comeback. “I’d never been in that moment. It was win or go home,” he said this week. He gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings but that was enough for the win over the Reds, and he would go on to start the clinchers against the Cardinals and the Tigers.