It's almost 2AM, and I'm wide awake...adrenaline will do that to a man. I was lucky enough to witness something very, very rare Wednesday evening.
I watched the Giants game as I do most games. The Giants are playing very enjoyable ball these past few weeks as the team's injured players return from the Disabled List, and get back into their respective grooves. The Giants outfield is as good as any in the Majors...the Giants' young infielders are getting their feet under themselves in the field, and they're starting to produce from the batter's box too.
With the exception of the Giants ace pitcher Tim Lincecum, who's been bedeviled with mysterious control problems, the Giants' starting pitchers have been shouldering the load as the team jells. Tonight it was Matt Cain on the mound against the Houston Astros.
Cain struck out the Astros' leadoff batter, and retired the side in order. Giants LF Melky Cabrera, fresh from three days off to heal a strained hamstring, knocked a two run homer into the bleachers in the 1st. Giant lead 2-0 going into the 2nd inning.
The Giants scored in each of the first five innings, Matt Cain retired the Astros in order each time the Giants took the field.
The crowd in the sold-out AT&T Park was festive to say the least, once they began to realize that Cain was well on his way to a No-Hitter, somehow they turned up the intensity a little more. It was totally a "playoff atmosphere"
It was intense at home too...the normally boisterous social networks turned it down once it looked like Cain had the No-No going...it's a thing in baseball, you don't talk about a no hitter if one is happening...don't jinx it.
In the seventh inning, Astros' Jason Schafer crushed a Matt Cain fastball into the gap in right center, coming from right field Gregor Blanco ran to the gap and made a diving catch on the warning track, and held onto the ball for the out. The catch looked impossible when the ball was hit, and still looked impossible when Blanco, in a dead run layed out to make the catch in mid air...think "The Catch", Willie Mays' famous over the shoulder basket catch in the Polo Grounds during the Game 1 of the 1954 World Series vs the Cleveland Indians...only horizontal!
That's when I knew Cain would not only get the no-hitter, but the Perfect Game as well. The crowd was off the hook from then on. The TV announcers were being swept along with the building tension. Everyone in the yard was standing from the bottom for the 7th, until the final out of Cain's masterpiece. In the 9th, the TV cameras caught Matt's wife Chelsea standing with some other Giants' wives as Matt hurled for his last three outs.
In the aftermath, the dugout reporter interviewing Cain told him he was the first pitcher in 135 years of Giants history to throw the perfect game. "Wow" Cain excitedly replied. Chelsea Cain made it down to the field as the interview was wrapping up, and a big hug and a kiss sealed the deal. The post game show ran about two hours...not the usual 20-25 minutes.
It was a big deal, I feel so lucky to have seen it! It's been four hours since the game ended and Twitter and the baseball side of Facebook are still crackling with energy. #MattCain is trending worldwide on Twitter and the baseball bloggers are all posting their stories. ESPN has a good one.
Only 22 perfect games have been pitched since baseball began in the 1870s Cain's Perfect Game featured the most pitches 125, and the highest score 10-0. The high pitch count came from Cain's 14 strikeouts, tying Sandy Koufax who did it with 113 pitches against the Chicago Cubs in 1965.
I watched the ground crew dig up Home Plate and the pitching rubber from the mound...destination Cooperstown, and the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I think this occasion will be the catalyst that sets the Giants chemistry into motion. I'm thinkin' contending come September...Go Giants, Well done Matt, and thanks a ton!