The San Francisco Giants, who began life in 1883 as the New York Gothams, had never seen one of their pitchers work a perfect game — until Matt Cain did the deed Wednesday night. It came very close to being the second no-hitter of the evening — the Met knuckleballer R.A. Dickey had yielded only one soft single in Tampa — and it underscored the growing reality that extreme pitching feats have become business as usual.
Think not? Well, the New York Mets, who opened play in 1962, had gone their entire existence without even a simple no-hitter until Johan Santana managed one on June 1. Not three weeks later, all that stood between Dickey and a second Mets no-hitter was B.J. Upton’s first-inning roller, which David Wright tried to bare-hand and dropped.
The play was ruled a hit, which seemed reasonable, but the Mets announced afterward that they would protest the scorer’s ruling, thereby seeking the first ex post facto no-hitter in baseball history. Then again, the Mets are lucky baseball doesn’t offer replay review on fair-or-foul calls or else they’d still be stuck on zero no-nos. (Carlos Beltran’s liner off Santana kicked up chalk but was ruled foul.)
Five nights before Cain yielded nothing and Dickey next to nothing, six Seattle pitchers — that’s correct, six — endeavored to work a no-hitter against the Dodgers. It marked the second no-hitter at Safeco Field in 2012, the first having been the perfect game authored by Philip Humber of the White Sox against the Mariners on April 21. And how many no-hitters had been worked at Safeco, which opened in 1999, before this season? Why, none.
Baseball has just seen five no-hitters in 53 days, which is roughly one every week and a half. And if you’re wondering why none of this gold dust has been sprinkled over the Atlanta Braves … well, by extension it has. Kevin Millwood was the Seattle pitcher who worked the first six innings Friday but who strained a groin muscle and had to exit a no-hitter. And the two biggest plays of Cain’s perfect game were Melky Cabrera’s running grab of Chis Snyder’s deep fly and, one inning later, Gregor Blanco’s astonishing diving catch of Jordan Schafer’s drive in the gap.
Millwood, Cabrera, Blanco, Schafer: All former Braves. And while we’re at it, Blanco’s snag might only have been the second-best catch ever made by an ex-Brave to save a perfect game. DeWayne Wise’s leaping/juggling/falling grab to preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfecto on July 23, 2009, is still the leader in the clubhouse. But the clubhouse is getting mighty crowded.
By Mark Bradley