Cain tosses MLB's 22nd Perfect Game


Cain tosses MLB's 22nd Perfect Game


SAN FRANCISCO The Giants announced a sellout crowd of 42,298. Many, many more will claim they were there on this cool Wednesday night.

Matt Cain, already an All-Star, a beloved Giant and a decorated postseason hero, grooved his name ever deeper into franchise lore. The stoic rock of the staff became the first Giant in the franchises 129-year history to throw a perfect game.

Houston Astros pinch hitter Jason Castro hit a ground ball to third base, Joaquin Arias nearly stumbled as he heaved a throw across the diamond and Brandon Belt exploded off first base as Cain and the Giants became immortal in a 10-0 victory at AT&T Park.

Cain, normally such a square-jawed gunslinger on the mound, punched the air, catcher Buster Posey leapt into his arms and Belt had the presence of mind to tuck the baseball in his back pocket before joining the emotional pile in front of the mound.

Gregor Blanco made the greatest of several defensive plays, nearly sporting a cape as he made a full-extension dive in deep right-center field to preserve perfection in the eighth.

The historic start came three hours after Cain swung a golf club in part of a pregame promotion at AT&T Park. The accomplished golfer, who plays in the annual AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach, looked into the stands to get permission from GM Brian Sabean before gripping a Taylor Made driver and sending a power fade into McCovey Cove.

Sabean turned his head and didnt watch, lest the right-hander wrench his back. He didnt.
Starting pitching report

Cains fastball was pinpoint, his curveball tumbled and his changeup, an ever-important pitch in his arsenal, simply disappeared.

He struck out 14, besting his previous career high of 12 set as a 21-year-old fireballer in 2006.

He pitched the 14th no-hitter in Giants history and the 22nd perfect game in major league history.

Bullpen report
Nobody unbuttoned a jacket.

At the plate

Cain found a way to overshadow one of the Giants best offensive games at AT&T Park in years. Melky Cabrera hit a two-run home run in the first inning, Brandon Belt hit a two-run shot in the second and Gregor Blanco lifted one into the arcade after Cain led off the fifth with a broken-bat single.

The Giants entered this series with six home runs in 32 home games. Theyve hit five in two games against the Astros staff. Houstons J.A. Happ became the first pitcher to serve up multiple home runs in a game at AT&T Park since San Diegos Mat Latos did it Sept. 14 of last season. (Not to make you weep, but Carlos Beltran hit both of em.)

The Giants had three homers with runners on base. They entered this series with just one of those at home all year.

Belts homer came one day after he hit his first of the season. Both of them have come against left-handed pitchers.

Belt also hit an RBI single and every Giants starter but Angel Pagan got a hit.

In field

There was no shortage of circled plays in the scorebook. It took a village of perfection behind Cain, beginning with Melky Cabreras leaping grab at the warning track in the sixth inning when Chris Snyders well struck drive somehow stayed in the ballpark.

Blanco made the grab of the year, racing back and toward center field, then laying out to catch Jordan Schafers drive to start the seventh inning. The sellout crowd, fully aware and alive, met the moment with the loudest ovation this ballpark has seen since the World Series.

It didnt end there. Giants manager Bruce Bochy took out Pablo Sandoval to start the seventh inning, inserting Brandon Crawford at shortstop and moving Joaquin Arias to third base. Both infielders made contributions in the eighth; Arias made a nice play on J.D. Martinezs slow roller, then Crawford, who has had his hiccups this season, backed up and waited for the right hop on Chris Johnsons grounder up the middle. Crawford made a clean pickup, exchange and throw to end the inning and get Cain within three outs of perfection.

Arias steadied his legs just in time to get his final throw across the field in time for the game's final out.

Well, 42,298 folks have ticket stubs to prove it.

Up next
The Giants finish their series with Houston on Thrusday. Itll be left-hander Barry Zito vs. left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford will return to camp Thursday, show off their WBC championship medals, and then head to nearby Salt River Fields to take on the Colorado Rockies. It'll be a few more days, however, before the Giants have their full infield on the field. 

Eduardo Nuñez said he actually got two cortisone shots in his right shoulder, since an MRI this week showed “something” in two separate spots. Nuñez asked for the MRI because, while he was able to play and make strong throws, he felt pain on a daily basis. He might DH this weekend, but it'll be a few more days before he's cleared to begin throwing. 

The Giants are hopeful that the shots calm all this down, and Nuñez anticipated being ready for Opening Day. Still, it certainly sounds like this will be a close call. Conor Gillaspie, who is having a huge spring, could get plenty of early time at third. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn't anticipate Nuñez missing Opening Day.

"He should be ready," Bochy said. 

The Giants need all the good injury news they can get. It is expected that Will Smith will announce Friday that he's having Tommy John surgery. 

ICYMI: From this morning, a feature on George Kontos and his rise over the last few years. 

Also, one of the bench candidates, Gordon Beckham, asked for his release. The Giants will soon have to make decisions on Hill and David Hernandez, who have similar retention bonuses due March 28.

GAME RECAP: The Giants played one of their uglier games of the spring, losing 9-2 to King Felix and the Mariners … Matt Moore lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, two walks, a balk and a wild pitch. It was the same old thing: Moore just all of a sudden lost his command, and because he got up past the 30-pitch mark in the second inning alone, the Giants cut it off. Moore went down to the bullpen and got up to around 80 pitches. He'll make one more start down here, Tuesday against the Cubs ... Joe Panik had a hard double, one of just four hits for the Giants … Chris Marrero hasn’t played a whole lot of left field this spring, and he didn’t show much to the coaches on a couple of opportunities to throw home. The left field situation remains a mystery. 

POSITION BATTLES: Kelby Tomlinson played six innings of left field in a minor league game, and he had to wait until the sixth to get his first and only fly ball. There seemed to be a lot of interest from decision-makers about how Tomlinson fared, and his action today opens up an intriguing possibility. There’s a roster permutation that has the Giants keeping just one reserve outfielder (Gorkys Hernandez) and three backup infielders: Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson, with the latter two being options in left field. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Angel Pagan made it through the WBC healthy, and he apparently is drawing interest from the Phillies and Blue Jays. Giants people are confident Pagan will get a big league job somewhere over the coming week. 

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Left-hander Will Smith, a key piece of a revamped bullpen, is leaning toward having Tommy John surgery, manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday night. 

Bochy said surgery was the recommendation of both doctors who examined Smith's elbow this week. Smith will talk to his agent before coming to a final decision on Friday. The procedure would keep Smith out the entire 2017 season and likely would cause him to miss the start of the 2018 season.

Smith, 27, missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned March 17, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain and called for a trainer. A second round of diagnostics revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki in San Francisco and flew to Los Angeles this week to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. 

"They had the same opinion," Bochy said. "There is a tear there. You can try to rehab it and if that doesn't work you're behind a couple of months ... It's not a definite he's going to have it done, but two doctors are in agreement on what this is."

Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants, getting setup work in the seventh and eighth innings. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on young lefties Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach. 

"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bochy said. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."

Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford (who is currently serving a 50-game suspension) and catcher Andrew Susac (who is currently injured). After a shaky start, he finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. 

The Giants have for the most part avoided Tommy John for 40-man roster pitchers. Hunter Strickland, Derek Law and Josh Osich have all had it during their time in the organization, along with outfielder Mac Williamson. Prospect Ian Gardeck is currently recovering from Tommy John. The last Giants pitcher who was likely headed for the roster before having Tommy John was left-hander Eric Surkamp. He had surgery in 2012.

The timetable is different for every pitcher, but the general consensus is that the procedure sidelines a pitcher for at least a year, and usually closer to 16 months. Matt Moore, Thursday night’s starter, had Tommy John on April 23, 2014. He did not return to a big league mound until July 2, 2015, and even then, he was under restrictions. 

Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one.