The San Francisco Giants defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-0 today in their Home Opener at AT&T Park. Matt Cain, the best-paid right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball history, started the game for the Giants, while James McDonald took the mound for the Pirates.
It isn’t exactly rare for an opposing pitcher to hand the Pirates a shutout considering their less-than-mediocre offense (11 runs scored in 7 games this season), and with Cain on the mound today, the offensive forecast wasn’t bright for Pittsburgh.
While – somewhat miraculously – the Bucs haven’t been no-hit during their ongoing 19-year streak of losing seasons, what they did today hadn’t happened for an even longer period of time.
You see, Cain pitched a perfect game today. Or at least he would have, had McDonald not singled with two outs in the sixth inning.
Cain had retired the first 17 batters he faced in order and retired the next 10 immediately after McDonald.
Nine innings. Eleven strikeouts. No walks. No runs. But still no perfection.
For the first time since 1986, a pitcher ended up one opposing pitcher’s hit away from throwing a perfect game.
The decision to let McDonald hit wasn’t an overly obvious one for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. J-Mac had allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in five innings to that point. With the club down two runs, some thought Hurdle should have called a pinch hitter to bat for the pitcher and potentially spark the club offensively.
McDonald pitched only 2/3 of an inning after his hit, leaving the game with a final line of 5 2/3 IP, six hits, three runs, three walks and a strikeout.
Cain left the game after the ninth inning. One hit, to the opposing pitcher.
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