Cain Shines on a Historic Night
The Northern California sports world was turned upside down Wednesday when San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain, an all-around nice guy and consummate professional did what no other Giants player had ever done – throw a perfect game. All it took was 130 years, but for the franchise and its fans, it was well worth the wait.
Cain becomes only the 22nd pitcher to ever throw a perfect game in the history of baseball, and he did it through an array of timely defensive plays (nothing finer than Gregor Blanco’s diving catch in the seventh inning), a career-best 14 strikeouts and of course, a little luck. Anyone who follows baseball knows that a little luck goes into a pitcher achieving a no-hitter or perfect game.
As mentioned, this couldn’t have happened to a better person. Cain is homegrown talent, drafted by the Giants 25th in the first round of the 2002 MLB draft and is unquestionably, a fan favorite. For whatever reason, he is probably the most underrated starting pitcher in the league, which is why some writers in baseball scratched their head in April when the Giants gave Cain a six-year extension worth $127 million.
Why would the Giants give someone whose career win-loss record is 77-75 that big of deal? Simple – because the guy has “ace” quality stuff, he eats up a lot of innings, his teammates love him and because of nights like Wednesday. I am certain Cain has thrown more one and two hit game no-decisions or losses of any Giants pitcher I can remember over the last decade.
All in all the Giants’ investment in Cain is already paying dividends.
Cubs Continue to Struggle
Going into the season, Cubs fans knew 2012 was going to be a year of transition with a new manager, general manager and a roster full of mostly question marks. To give you a sample of how bad things have gone, through June 10, the Cubs were on pace to lose 108 games, which would break a mark set by the 1962 Cubs team that lost 103 games (the 1966 Cubs later tied that record).
Cubs fans know this better than me, but from what I can gather, it appears the franchise will be spending the rest of 2012 pretty much auditioning players from their minor-league system – meaning at some point, many of their prospects will be called up to the big leagues so the team can evaluate what they have and don’t have. It may be the only way general manger Theo Epstein can start to rebuild this proud franchise and get the Cubs back to winning more games than they’ve lost (something they haven’t done since 2009).
One thing the Cubs do know is that they have a stud in shortstop Starlin Castro. At only 22 years old, he still has so much to learn, but the future looks bright (Castro is currently hitting .295 with 5 HR and 34 RBI). Under normal circumstances, Castro probably would have spent more time in the minor leagues to grow and mature his game, but top prospects are increasingly being promoted quicker to the major leagues, which is somewhat of a paradigm shift.
Notwithstanding the emergence of Castro, the Cubs are going to need more players of his caliber to become competitive again, and to that extent, there will be a lot of work to do over the next few years. That process is beginning right now.
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