Matt Cain threw a perfect game tonight. I watched the game on television from start to finish and after it was all over, I had trouble collecting my thoughts. I was bombarded with all sorts of emotions — excitement, bliss, relief, disbelief…This was an event of such rarity and significance.
As the game progressed, the anticipation grew exponentially. More nervousness, anxiety, excitement. By the seventh inning, every pitch had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath.
I say this having watched no other perfect game from start to finish, but I can’t imagine a more nerve-wracking perfect game. Cain was so dominant tonight that it was almost his undoing, odd as it sounds. Nobody was reaching base, but since Cain was racking up the strikeouts — 14, to be exact, he also had a pretty high pitch count going. Through seven innings, Cain was already over 100 pitches on the night, averaging 4.9 pitches per plate appearance. I can’t remember exactly how many times he ran the count full, but every time it happened, I feared it would all end.
That wasn’t it, either. There was the ball Chris Snyder crushed into left field — I figured there was no chance that wouldn’t leave the yard. There was the magnificent diving catch Gregor Blanco made in the seventh inning to preserve the perfect game; even as Blanco was chasing that ball down and going in for the dive, I figured it was all over. It got to the point where even the routine grounders were moments of intense anxiety.
But Cain did it. With a little luck, a little help from his defense, and a whole lot of Matt Cain-ness, he retired 27 Houston Astros in order. And yes, they’re the Houston Astros, a 26-36 team, but they’ve also managed to put up league-average numbers against right-handed pitching this season — it wasn’t exactly an easy offense to tackle.
Anyway, I’m still trying to digest all of this. There’s an article up at the ESPN SweetSpot blog posing the following question: Did Matt Cain throw greatest game ever? That’s the kind of territory we’re in right now. That’s the kind of performance we all just witnessed. Matt Cain, ladies and gentlemen. Matt Cain.