SAN FRANCISCO At least Oscar nominees have time to thinkabout the people they should acknowledge.
Matt Cain had no such advantage after throwing the 22ndperfect game in major league history, and the first by a Giant in thefranchises 129-year existence.
Still processing the greatest night of his baseball life, agame on par with Sandy Koufaxs legendary 14-strikeout game in 1965, Cain didall right in the speech department. He credited catcher Buster Posey first, andright fielder Gregor Blanco, who floated like that crazy guy with the hydrojetpack beyond McCovey Cove as he caught Jordan Schafers drive in the seventhinning.
But Cain also took a moment to acknowledge the man perchedbehind Poseys shoulder.
Ive never had that much excitement in every pitch, everystrike, every swing, Cain said. Ted Barrett back there, I made pitches justoff the corner and hes calling it right. Hes gotta hear the whole crowd.Thats got to be a lot of stress on him.He did a great job back there. He was consistent with everything, hecalled a lot of strikes that were on the plate and he stayed the same way thewhole night. He didnt change a bit.
Barrett became the first umpire to work the plate for twoperfect games. He also was calling balls and strikes for David Cones perfectoin 1999 at Yankee Stadium.
Cain went to three-ball counts four times in the game. Onlyonce did Barrett have to make the call between a walk and a strikeout, whenBrett Wallace took a fastball that snapped back across the inside edge in theeighth inning.
Barrett gave Cain just one obvious gift call, when he rangup 5-foot-5 Jose Altuve on a strike above the letters.
Third-base umpire Brian Runge was the home umpire for PhilipHumbers perfect game in April. He also worked the plate for Seattles combinedno-hitter last Friday.
Most notably for Giants fans, Runge worked the plate forJonathan Sanchezs no-hitter on July 10, 2009 which was just a Juan Uribeerror away from being a perfect game.
Cains perfect game was the 22nd in major leaguehistory but the fourth since 2010. The Giants 10 runs were also the mostscored by a team in a perfect game. In fact, the Giants hit three home runs ina home game for the first time this season, and Houston pitcher J.A. Happbecame the first pitcher to surrender multiple homers at AT&T Park sinceMat Latos last September (both to Carlos Beltran).
The last time the Giants had three home runs in a home game,all with at least one runner on base? You have to go back to May 7, 2007, whenBengie Molina homered twice and Rich Aurilia also hit one against the New YorkMets.
Leave it to Cain to steal all the attention from one of thebest offensive nights in recent Giants history.
When the Giants added Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera over thewinter, management envisioned a lineup with more athleticism that could scoreruns in more dynamic ways. But the club also envisioned a defensive outfieldthat could rank among the best in baseball.
That is a special boon for Barry Zito and Cain, who are flyball pitchers. Those guys made a major difference Wednesday night.
Theres nothing better to know youve got guys withtremendous speed in the outfield, Cain said. If it stays in the air, withthee guys speed, more than likely theyll run it down.
There was one change to their game-winning routine: Gregor Blanco,Pagan and Cabrera didnt meet in the outfield for their usual hip-hip-hooraycelebration.
No, we couldnt do it, Pagan said, smiling. We had tohustle to the pile.
As I mentioned the other day, Pagan has admired Cain eversince facing him at Double-A. In San Diego last week, I looked it up andconfirmed Pagans suspicion that hed never gotten a hit off him Hes 0 for 7with two walks.
Ive been facing Matt since 2004 when he was one of thebest pitchers I saw in the minor leagues, and I dont have a hit against himyet, Pagan said. Hes a horse. Hes a competitor. Its so much fun to playbehind him.
You see a lot of pitchers with that twilight-zone look outthere. But hes someplace else.
So will Matt Cain tee up a golf ball and hit it intoMcCovey Cove before every start?
Cain smiled as he looked at club president Larry Baer.
I dont know, am I? Cain said. Am I Larry?
Cain on his pregame routine, which was centered around hisdaughter, Hartley Mae:
When you wake up, Ive got to worry about my crazy little 1 year old right now. I get to relax and figure out what shes thinking, whichis not easy. We ate breakfast at Townsend, went to the dog park and hung out,played around for a little while and came to the park like normal.
I went to Northwestern. So did Astros pitcher J.A. Happ, whogave up eight runs on 11 hits in 3 13 innings.
I can state it objectively: Happ got outpitched.
Matt Cain threw 65 fastballs, 23 sliders, 21 changeups and16 curveballs. Of his 125 pitches, the most ever required to pitch a perfectgame, 85 were strikes.
He threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 27 batters hefaced.
Of his career-high 14 strikeouts, 11 came on fastballs. Cainsaid he wasnt trying for strikeouts, but he kept getting in favorable countsand had especially good movement. He kept throwing to the edges and hitting hisspots.
This was the 14th no-hitter in franchise historyand the sixth in the clubs San Francisco era. Along with the Seattle Marinerscombined no-no last week and Johan Santanas on June 1, this is the first monthwith three no-hitters since June, 1990.
The last Giant to no-hit Houston was Juan Marichal on June15, 1963, when the Giants beat the Colt 45s 1-0 at Candlestick Park.
Duane Kuiper played in a perfect game (Len Barker, May 15,1981 at Cleveland). Now he can say he broadcast one, too.
The Giants are 10-3 in Matt Cains starts. Hes won sevenconsecutive starts, which is a career high. His streak of seven consecutivewinning decisions matches his career high, which he set in 2009.
A Tweet from Dallas Braden, who threw his perfect game forthe As two years ago:
What a beautiful game. Congrats 2 Matt Cain & ahistoric franchise & city. A special memory ill tell someones kids about!eraofthepitcher.
Bon chance, Barry Zito. Not only is he following a perfect game,but the Giants are coming off their first consecutive, double-digit strikeoutstarts for the first time in 34 years. Cain (14 strikeouts) and MadisonBumgarner (12) became the first Giants pitchers to fan at least 10 inback-to-back games since Vida Blue (11) and John Montefusco (10) on May 17 and19, 1978.
Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti had a hard timebelieving that, especially since Jason Schmidt had a few years where he struckout 10 in almost every start. I reminded him that Kirk Rueter often followedhim.
Jeez, Ill have to text Woody, Righetti said.
Baseball is all about timing. That goes for the field, thedugout and the press box, too.
This is the one game in the Astros series that Im covering,and it happens to be one of the most historic nights for baseball in SanFrancisco. Ive gotten to cover a perfect game and a four-homer game (ShawnGreen, 2002 at Milwaukee.) How many baseball reporters could call themselvesthat lucky?
Then youve got the 2010 World Series championship, BarryBonds 756th home run and too many great games, epic comebacks andincredible feats to mention. Even the small stuff, like the time I saw threesacrifice flies in an inning, prevail in memory. Or the one triple play I saw in person. (Thanks, Aaron Rowand.)
Thats baseball. Show up, anything can happen. Any humdrumgame is a stage that can lift a player to immortality. So it went, finally,deservedly so, for Matt Cain on an ordinary Wednesday night in mid-June that hellnever forget.
Now if I could just see an unassisted triple play