“I think the best part of pitching for me is being able to be in the game the whole time, really being the center of it,” pitcher Matt Cain told us during spring training.
Cain was bigger than the game itself last night, becoming the first pitcher in the history of the San Francisco Giants franchise to throw a perfect game. It was the second perfect game of the 2012 MLB season.
The right-hander threw 125 pitches and a career-high 14 strikeouts to beat the Houston Astros 10-0 in front of a hometown crowd at AT&T Park in San Francisco. His 14 Ks matched the record set by Sandy Koufax in 1965 for most strikeouts in a perfect game.
Not only that, Cain was 1-for-3 at the plate and scored a run—one more than the entire Astros club and the only one he needed.
The National League leader in complete games this season, Cain kept the Astros off balance all night with a steady mix of his four- and two-seam fastballs, sharp-breaking curveball, and his secondary changeup pitch, which, during the seventh inning, he used to retire Astros right-handed hitter Jed Lowrie on a 3-2 count.
Talk about a gutsy call with a perfect game on the line. Referring to his catcher, Buster Posey, Cain said after the game: “That [pitch] was Buster’s fault. If that had gone as a ball, it would have been his fault … I was going with whatever he put down.”
That changeup called by Posey—a pitch Cain uses primarily against left-handed hitters—was the defining moment of his perfect game. In essence, it’s the reason he loves being a big-league pitcher. Said Cain: “You kind of control the game in some way or some part, having that relationship with the catcher to find ways to be creative and get the hitter out.”