As many on the East Coast were already sleeping on Wednesday night, night owls and baseball fans out west got to witness quite a bit of history, courtesy of Matt Cain.
Cain tossed the 22nd perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball, and second this season, the first in the storied history of the San Francisco Giants. The historic performance was obviously a terrific display, but it was also validation for a guy who hasn’t gotten nearly enough credit in recent years.
The performance was downright dominating. Say what you want about it coming against the Houston Astros, Cain struck out 14 hitters while not allowing a baserunner. As far as any comparison to Phil Humber, who threw the other perfect game this season, there is no comparison. Cain is one of the best in the bigs and will finally be recognized as such, while Humber has sunk back into mediocrity.
Obviously playing on the team that he does, Cain kind of plays second fiddle in the rotation, at least by name recognition. Tim Lincecum grabs most of the headlines, even if they’re negative like they are this season. But as far as pitchers in Major League Baseball go, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more steady arm than Matt Cain.
Cain had a couple of very solid seasons in 2007 and 2008 before he could be considered an “elite” starter in 2009. He’s not the kind of power arm that’s going to strike a ton of guys out, but he does get them out. Cain’s career WHIP, at 1.18, is a very impressive number and it’s a stat that stands at an absurd 0.94 this season. His ERA for the year is at 2.41, a career mark after he posted a 2.88 last season.
With all the squabbling between the Giants and Tim Lincecum over a new contract, it almost went somewhat under the radar when Cain signed a big money deal this winter, to the tune of six years and a bit over $127 million. Some scoffed at the deal, but it’s looking even better than it did before after Cain’s perfecto.
Matt Cain isn’t a Phil Humber or a Dallas Braden. He’s not a guy who came out of nowhere, threw a perfect game or no hitter and sank right back into oblivion. Cain has been a star for quite a bit in this league, he just hasn’t been recognized as such. That should change with his perfect game on Wednesday night, another chapter in what is already becoming a very impressive career.