The reason why Cain’s game might be the best-pitched game of all-time lies in the numbers. First of all his 14 strikeouts tie the great Sandy Koufax for most in a perfect game. Another eye-popping stat is Cain’s game score, which was recorded at 101, the highest ever after Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game in 1999, where he recorded a score of 105. Cain was also aided by two spectacular plays by the players behind him. Left fielder Melky Cabrera chased down Chris Snyder’s fly ball in the sixth inning, making a leaping grab at the wall, to which Cain raised his hands and smacked his glove in appreciation. Then again in the seventh, right fielder Gregor Blanco ran into deep right-center to make what might be one of the greatest catches in history, diving onto the warning track to rob Jordan Schaefer of a sure extra-base knock. At he end of the inning, 27-seven-year-old Cain gave Blanco the biggest bear hug I have ever seen.
Now, I’m sure there are plenty of haters out there who think I’m high as a kite saying that this is one of the greatest-pitched games in history. They will say that Cain pitched a perfect-game all-time high of 125 pitches, that he was saved by his fielders, and that he was pitching against the Houston Astros, who couldn’t win a tee-ball game. To all those people, I just have to say shut the hell up.
Give me a moment to educate you all. First, the 125 pitches for Cain simply make the feat even harder. Sure, he had to throw a large number of pitches, but I would like to see any one of you haters stand out there and throw 100+ pitches at 90 mph without giving up a hit. Cain still threw 86 balls for strikes and only faced four full-counts. Sounds pretty damned “perfect” to me.
Now, on to the amazing plays in the field made by Cabrera and Blanco. You find me one perfect game, let alone no-hitter, where the pitcher has done it all by himself and I will find you a Cubs championship in the last 100 years (sorry Cubs fans). Not so easy, huh? Baseball is the one team sport in which success does not necessarily depend on how the players mesh with one another. Players bat by themselves, pitch by themselves, and simply throw the ball to another teammate. Success in other sports such as football, soccer, or basketball depends much more heavily upon how the players mesh on the court or field.
However, games such as these highlight the teamwork and unity needed to accomplish such feats. Had Cabrera and Blanco not made those catches, there certainly would be no perfect game, and had Cain not made all the pitches that he did, the Giants might not have won. The catches by Cabrera and Blanco will certainly not be forgotten in the lore of Cain’s perfection.
Finally, on to the Astros. Yes, they suck; I will be the first to say it. At the time of the game their record stood at 26-36 with an 8-22 record away from home, and they are highlighted by a player who works the night shifts at Dunkin Donuts in Carlos Lee. “El Caballo” looks a lot more like “El McDouble” nowadays. However, they still are a PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL TEAM. Sure, it might have been cooler had Cain done this against the Yankees, but the players on the Astros are still not slouches. Relative to their MLB counterparts, they might look like a bunch of Cabbage Patch kids in comparison to G.I. Joes, but the players on the team can still hit the ball better than 98% of the population. After all, they are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so. These players can play, and perfection against them is still perfection against a group of elite ballplayers.
All in all, the game played by Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants was simply put, perfection. Cain was masterful and was anchored by the defense behind him, leading to one of the greatest accomplishments in all of sports. Cain’s gem certainly tops the list when it comes to perfect games, and he will be enshrined in baseball history for all of eternity. For everyone who doubts him, I guess he could strike out all 27 batters next time, right? You have got to be kidding.