Late last night, San Francisco Giants Ace, Matt Cain, threw the franchise’s first ever perfect game. 27 up and 27 down, Cain might have pitched the most impressive statistical perfect game ever. With the highest pitch count in a perfect game ever (125), Matt Cain becomes the 22nd pitcher to ever accomplish this epic feat of not allowing a base runner. In fact, Cain matches the most ever strikeouts pitched during a perfect game with 14, and he now finds his name alongside Giants greats Christy Mathewson, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry as a member of an exclusive Giants club that have thrown no hitters. In front of his sold out home crowd of over 42,000 screaming Giants fans, Cain threw his arms up as the Astro’s pinch hitter, Jason Castro, grounded out to third for the final out of the game.
“This is incredible right now,” Cain said. “It was unbelievable. The guys did a great job making it, in a way, kind of relaxing, because they were able to get on the board early.”
Cain was absolutely masterful from start to finish but he did have to be bailed out with a couple of great plays behind him. Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco both made unbelievable catches in the outfield to ensure that Cain would finish his historic night. And you will find out as you keep reading why a quality defense is essential to a perfect game.
“Those were unbelievable catches,” Cain said. “I mean that right there, that changes the whole thing.”
Usually a perfect game would dominate the headlines as there has only been 22 of them in the history of baseball, but last night the sports Gods provided their fans with nearly two doses of perfection. Across the country from where Matt Cain pitched his perfect gem, the New York Mets RA Dickey tried to make some history of his own. Just a couple of weeks removed from the Mets first ever no-hitter by Johan Santana, Dickey took the mound against the AL East juggernaut, Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Dickey threw a career best 12 strikeouts over 9 masterful innings. After the Rays first two batters of the game went down swinging at RA’s phantom knuckleball, BJ Upton hit a slow grounder to Wright at third that seemed to be playable but David mucked it and the favorable scoring of home field advantage awarded Upton with a hit. As I watched it I thought it should have been an error but since it was the 1st inning I didn’t really care too much. It turns out that was going to be the only “hit” that the NL’s leading Cy Young candidate would give up for the game.
Johan was credited with the Mets first ever no-hitter, but when Carlos Beltran hit a ball that was called foul (clearly it was fair based on the picture above), many fans wanted an asterisk placed on his no-hitter. Funny enough, the Mets are now appealing the hit/error by Upton and they are trying to get Dickey credited with the Mets 2nd ever no-hitter. In fact, Dickey didn’t walk anyone either, and without Gold Glover David Wright’s 2 errors (or 1 error and 1 hit however you look at it), RA might have had the Mets first ever Perfect Game, joining Cain in the Hall of Fame record books. It also shouldn’t be overlooked that while Dickey was pitching this superb game last night, he surpassed Mets great Jerry Koosman’s record for consecutive scoreless innings (31 2/3) by recording his 32 2/3 in the ninth.
Matt Cain’s night was perfect and RA Dickey’s was nearly perfect. Cain’s perfect game marked the 5th no-hitter of the season. This is also only the third year in baseball history that there were two perfect games thrown in the same season. What do all of these perfect games and no hitters mean to baseball? Are we looking at the year of the pitcher or are the hitters just getting worse? Maybe if you read NYBobby’s take on his anti-doping article you can see why hitting numbers are down. As a Mets fan I am thrilled with the lack of hitting against them, but as a sports fan I would love to see some of that flare from the McGwire, Sosa and Bonds eras.
History was made last night when Johan Santana pitched the first ever No-Hitter for the New York Mets. It took just over half a century, but the Mets have finally ended the longest streak of not having a No-Hitter in Major League Baseball history. The masterful No-No came on the Mets 8020th game as a franchise. Johan, who had missed all of last season after shoulder surgery, had a career high in pitches (134), and finished the no-hit bid against the St. Louis Cardinals with 5 walks and 8 strikeouts. As a life long Mets fan, this is an extremely exciting moment for myself as well as any Mets fan that suffered through the years where the Mets have accumulated 35 1-hit games.
The absence of a No-Hitter for the Mets has become an ongoing joke among fans based on how close we have come on so many different occasions. Well now the jokes are over. No longer will I have to hear about the Mets all time greatest pitcher, Tom Seaver, and his 3 blown no-hitters in the 9th inning. The truth of the matter is that the Mets have had some of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball play for them, some who had even gone on to throw a no-hitter, but never for the Mets. The Mets have left the San Diego Padres as the lone team longing for a no-hitter, and if it remains that way for the next 7 seasons then the Padres will pass the Mets for the longest streak of not having one.
When Johan made it back to the dugout after pitching a hit-less 8th inning, there was not one Mets player that would talk to him or even look at him as he was isolated to the end of the bench where he could think about changing his franchises history. With a full count on the St. Louis Cardinals David Freese, Johan threw his patented change-up for his 134th pitch and got Freese to swing and miss. The stadium filled with over 27,000 screaming Mets fans erupted in jovial celebration with fans running on the field and cameras flashing throughout the ballpark. This was the 2-time Cy Young award winner’s first ever no-hitter and after the game he was so excited to talk about it. “I don’t think I’ve ever even thrown a no-hitter in video games,” Santana said.
In the sixth inning, former Mets player Carlos Beltran hit a line drive up the third base line which appeared to be fair but the umpire called it foul keeping Johan’s no-hitter intact. Some people are saying that Santana’s triumph should come with an asterisks which I think is absurd because there are missed calls in baseball on a daily basis. The biggest hurdle that Johan had to overcome for the no-hitter was a 7th-inning bomb ripped over the Mets left fielder, Mike Baxter’s head. Baxter sprinted back towards the warning track looking over his shoulder and reaching out his glove as the ball was caught in a beautiful fashion as Baxter collided in full speed into the wall. Mike might have left the game with a shoulder injury after that catch, but he will never leave the minds of Mets fans that know he saved what has become the Mets first ever No-Hitter.
“That ball that Baxter caught, he’ll go down in the annals of New York Met lore because of that,” said pitcher R.A. Dickey.
“What a night for the Mets,” Baxter said in the Mets’ clubhouse. “As a Met fan as a kid, it is a huge night for the Mets. We have been waiting a long time for a no-hitter.”
What a night indeed. In what has already been an overachieving season for the Mets, seems to only be getting better. Let’s hope they can keep it up because we still need a Perfect Game!
Congratulations to the Mets and Johan Santana!
SOME INTERESTING STATS
It’s hard to believe that the Mets have never before had a no-hitter to their credit. Not once in the prior 5 decades has a Metropolitan pitcher managed to push through a full game without giving up at least one hit. Over 8,000 games without achieving what had been accomplished 232 times since 1901. Okay, statistically speaking we are talking about a percentage opportunity for any one pitcher on any single team actually completing a no-hitter at some ridiculously infinitesimally small number, about 0.13%!
Roughly speaking, there have been about 176,000 major league games played in the past 111 years, including post-season [for statistical purists, this is the estimate of games as a two-team total, since one game = 2 teams playing; it would be double this for individual totals). The 8,019 games in which the Mets played before Santana’s new number 1 hit (okay, number 1 NO-hit) represent only 4.5% of these games. So what does this all mean? How the hell would I know! But it’s a small frigging number and Johan did it.
Dream Weaver…the Angels believed you could get them through the night! Wednesday, the Angels Ace Jered Weaver pitched the second no-hitter in this young baseball season. The difference between this no-hitter and what Philip Humber did on April 21st is that you will know who Jered Weaver is for a long time coming and through April Weaver would have to be the leading candidate for the AL Cy Young. Luckily for the Sports Debaters, Weaver headlines our fantasy baseball squad for the second straight season.
Weaver was absolutely lights out last night and had the whole sports world watching as ESPN interrupted their regularly scheduled programming to broadcast the 9th inning of his masterful performance. Jered took a very unconventional way of achieving his no-hitter by accumulating 28 outs rather then the normal 27. With two outs in the second inning Weaver threw strike 3 past Minnesota’s Chris Parmelee, but unfortunately the ball squirted past Angel’s catcher Chris Iannetta and Parmelee reached first base safely. With two outs in the 7th inning Weaver walked the Twins Josh Willingham, but besides that Jered was absolutely perfect. On the final out of the game, the Twins Alexi Casilla ripped a shot to deep right field, which I thought was gone when it left his bat, but Gold Glove outfielder Torii Hunter pulled it in and then the celebration started.
My favorite part of this historical moment for Weaver is that there was a possibility he wouldn’t be wearing the Halo this season if he followed in the footsteps of fellow free agent superstars like Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder by pursuing the big bucks. Instead, Weaver chose to stay in his hometown and with the team that has molded his career into one of the best pitchers in baseball. Weaver pitched this gem in front of over 27,000 screaming Angel fans including his family and had this to say, “I was locked in for the most part, my mom, dad, wife, this was awesome.” Jered also credited his teammates after the game, “I’m at a loss for words right now. It hasn’t kicked in yet,” he said. “Thank you for all your support. Couldn’t have done it without the defense. The guys were picking me up left and right.” Last season Weaver finished second in Cy Young votes behind Tigers Ace Justin Verlander and it doesn’t seem like he has missed a step. Maybe this will be his year.
Jered Weaver is one of the few class-acts left in baseball and I for one am extremely happy he had this moment.