Matt Cain

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Matt Cain
Matt Cain.jpg
Cain delivering a pitch at a game against the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011
San Francisco Giants – No. 18
Starting pitcher
Born: (1984-10-01) October 1, 1984 (age 29)
Dothan, Alabama
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
August 29, 2005 for the San Francisco Giants
Career statistics
(through April 18, 2014)
Win–loss record 93–91
Earned run average 3.35
Strikeouts 1,457
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Matthew Thomas Cain (born October 1, 1984), nicknamed The Horse,[1] Big Daddy, and Big Sugar,[2][3] is an American professional baseball starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball (MLB). Cain is 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) tall and weighs 235 pounds (107 kg). He bats and throws right-handed. Cain throws five pitches: a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a slider, a curveball, and a changeup.

Cain was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the first round of the 2002 Major League Baseball Draft out of high school. He advanced quickly through the minor leagues and made his debut with the Giants in 2005, becoming the youngest player in the National League (NL) that year. In 2006 (his first full season), Cain won 13 games and finished tied for fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting. Cain had the 10th-best earned run average in the NL in 2007, but he finished second in the league with 16 losses due to poor run support. He lost 14 games in 2008, receiving the worst run support in the league.

In 2009, Cain was named an All-Star for the first time in his career; he won 14 games and had a winning record for the first time since 2006. Cain won 13 games in 2010, but he saved his best pitching for the playoffs. He did not allow an earned run any of the three playoff games he pitched in as the Giants won their first World Series since 1954. In 2011, Cain won 12 games and had a 2.88 ERA. Cain threw the 22nd perfect game in Major League Baseball history on June 13, 2012. He had a 16–5 record during the regular season, and he finished sixth in NL Cy Young Award voting. He started every series-clinching playoff game for the Giants as they won the 2012 World Series.

Early life[edit]

Cain was born to Tom and Dolores Cain in Dothan, Alabama. He lived in Vincent, Alabama, for a year when his mother taught at a school nearby.[4] Cain also spent part of his childhood in Germantown, Tennessee, where he attended Houston High School.[5] He took lessons on how to pitch from Mauro Gozzo, who lived near the Cains in Tennessee.[6] As a senior at Houston High School, Cain struck out 83 batters in 62 innings pitched while recording a 1.03 earned run average (ERA). He was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the first round (25th overall) in the 2002 Major League Baseball (MLB) Draft.[7]

Minor League career[edit]

Cain began his professional career in 2002 with the rookie Arizona League Giants. In eight games (seven starts), he had an 0–1 record, a 3.72 ERA, 20 strikeouts, and 11 walks in 19 13 innings pitched. He spent 2003 with the Hagerstown Suns of the Single-A South Atlantic League. In 14 starts for the Suns, he had a 4–4 record, a 2.55 ERA, 90 strikeouts, and 24 walks in 74 innings pitched.[8]

Prior to 2004, Cain was ranked the number two prospect in the Giants' organization (behind Merkin Valdez) by Baseball America.[9][10] Cain spent 2004 with two teams. He began the season with the San Jose Giants of the Single-A advanced California League. In 13 starts, he had a 7–1 record, a 1.86 ERA, 89 strikeouts, and 17 walks in 72 23 innings pitched. In June, he was promoted to the Norwich Navigators of the Double-A Eastern League. In 15 starts, he had a 6–4 record, a 3.35 ERA, 72 strikeouts, and 40 walks in 86 innings pitched.[8] Cain led Giants' minor league prospects in wins, strikeouts, and ERA; he was named the Giants' Organizational Player of the Year.[11]

Baseball America ranked Cain as the 13th-best prospect in baseball in 2005, as well as the Giants' top prospect.[9] Cain attended spring training in 2005, but he began the season with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (PCL).[12] In 26 starts, Cain had a 10–5 record and 145 23 innings pitched. He finished fifth (tied with R.A. Dickey and Adam Wainwright) in the PCL in wins and fourth with a 4.39 ERA (behind Kevin Jarvis's 3.38, Chris Oxspring's 4.03, and Édgar González's 4.37). He led the league with 176 strikeouts.[13]

San Francisco Giants[edit]

2005[edit]

Cain warming up before his MLB debut in 2005

Cain was called up to the Giants on August 26, 2005, to join their rotation.[14] He made his major league debut on August 29, at the age of 20 against the Colorado Rockies; he gave up only three hits and two runs in five innings but still ended up losing the game.[15] He earned his first major league win on September 4 allowing one run in seven innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks.[16] He notched his first complete game, a two-hitter, against the Chicago Cubs on September 9.[17] Cain finished his first season with seven starts over 46 13 innings in which he posted a 2–1 record, 30 strikeouts, a 2.33 ERA, a 0.928 walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP), and a minuscule .151 opponent batting average.[1][11]

When he was called up, Cain was the second youngest player in the major leagues (Félix Hernández of the Seattle Mariners was the youngest).[15]

2006[edit]

Cain's 2005 performance was impressive enough that manager Felipe Alou named him to the team's 2006 starting rotation before spring training began. Cain began the season as the team's fourth starter.[18] Entering the season, he was again ranked as the Giants' top prospect by Baseball America, which also named him the 10th-best prospect in baseball.[9]

In 2006, Cain struggled with consistency, but showed signs of dominance in several starts, flirting with a no-hitter on more than one occasion.[19][20] On April 24, Cain did not allow a base runner until the sixth inning in a win over the New York Mets.[21] On May 21, Cain pitched his first complete game shutout, a one-hitter against the Oakland Athletics.[22] On June 19, Cain pitched 7 23 innings of no-hit ball against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before finally surrendering a single to Chone Figgins.[23]

Late in the season, Cain increased his chances for Rookie of the Year consideration with a run of remarkable pitching.[24] From August 17 to September 14 Cain recorded a 5–0 record with an ERA of 0.21. During this streak, he allowed just one earned run in 42 innings—and did not allow an earned run in 30 23 innings.[20] He led all National League (NL) rookie pitchers with 13 wins, 179 strikeouts, and 190 23 innings pitched in 2006. His 2006 record was 13–12, with a 4.15 ERA.[11] Cain finished in a fifth-place tie with Andre Ethier in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.[25]

2007[edit]

Cain began 2007 as the Giants' number two starter.[26] In April, he had a 1.54 ERA with 12 hits in 35 innings pitched.[27] On April 22, he pitched a complete game allowing one run (in the ninth) and three hits in a 2–1 victory over Arizona. It was the third complete game of his young career. Cain's record through August 3 was 3–12. He had limited opponents to a batting average of .238 against him during that stretch. The Giants scored two or fewer runs in 20 of Cain's first 30 starts.[28] Additionally, the bullpen blew four leads behind him.[29]

Cain went 4–1 over his next five starts.[27] This stretch was bolstered in part by a power surge at the plate by Cain himself. He hit his first and second career home runs in these starts, off Tim Redding of the Washington Nationals and Cubs' ace Carlos Zambrano.[30][31] In September, he had an 0–3 record.[27]

Cain finished the season with the 10th-lowest ERA in the NL at 3.65. He had a 7–16 record; his 16 losses were second in the league (Kip Wells had 17).[32] The Giants went 9–23 in his starts; the bullpen lost leads in five of his starts and the team scored 2 runs or fewer in 21 of his starts.[33] He had 163 strikeouts and 179 walks in 200 innings pitched; he led the league with 12 wild pitches.[1]

2008[edit]

Cain pitching in 2008

On April 12, 2008, Cain took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals before allowing a leadoff double to Albert Pujols; he allowed two runs in 6 23 innings and hit a home run against Todd Wellemeyer but received a no-decision as the Giants lost 8–7 in 10 innings.[34] He allowed two runs in eight innings and hit a home run against Brandon Backe on May 13, earning the win as the Giants defeated the Houston Astros 4–2.[35] He struck out a season-high 11 batters on June 15 while giving up three runs in seven innings, but he took the loss as the Athletics beat the Giants 4–0.[36][37] He threw eight shutout innings on July 1, striking out 10 and earning the win in a 2–1 victory over the Cubs.[38] On July 24, despite battling the flu, Cain threw a shutout, helping the Giants beat the Nationals 1–0.[39] Cain went 8–14 with a 3.76 ERA. He had 186 strikeouts (tied with Ricky Nolasco for eighth in the league) and 217 23 innings (fifth in the league). His 14 losses were tied for fourth in the league with Johnny Cueto, Backe, Braden Looper, and Zach Duke (behind teammate Barry Zito's and Aaron Harang's 17 and John Lannan's 15); he was one of eight NL pitchers to make 34 starts.[40] Cain's season record was deceiving, as he received the lowest run support in the NL.[11]

2009[edit]

Cain was the Giants' number three starter in 2009.[11] He threw six shutout innings and had an RBI single against Mike Pelfrey on May 17 in a 2–0 victory over the Mets.[41] In his next start on May 23, he threw a complete game, allowing just one run as San Francisco defeated the Seattle Mariners 5–1.[42] On June 4, in the second game of a doubleheader, he threw a five-inning complete game, allowing one run in a 4–1 victory over the Nationals.[43] He allowed one run in a complete game against Oakland on June 14, striking out nine as the Giants won 7–1.[44] From May 7 through June 14, Cain won seven straight decisions.[11] On July 5, Cain was announced as an All-Star for the first time in his young career.[45] On Cain's final start before the All-Star Game, he was hit by a line drive right below his elbow and was forced to miss pitching for the NL All-Star Team, although he did still attend and was announced as an All-Star. Duke replaced Cain on the NL All-Star team.[46] Cain threw a complete game on August 3 against Houston; however, he suffered the loss for the first time in his career when throwing a complete game, allowing four runs in a 4–3 defeat.[47] On September 25, Cain was awarded the Willie Mac Award.[48]

Cain finished the 2009 season with a 14–8 record in 33 starts. He had a 2.89 ERA (seventh in the NL), 171 strikeouts, 73 walks, and 217 23 innings pitched (seventh). He was tied for first in complete games thrown (four) with teammate Tim Lincecum. He finished ninth in the league with a .636 winning percentage.[49] He finished the season with a career-high in wins and winning percentage.[11]

2010[edit]

A man wearing an orange baseball uniform holding a baseball bat over his right shoulder
Cain bats during Game 2 of the NLDS

In 2010, Cain was part of a rotation that included 2008 and 2009 NL Cy Young Award winner Lincecum, 2002 American League Cy Young Award winner Barry Zito, Jonathan Sánchez, and Wellemeyer[50] (who was replaced midseason by Madison Bumgarner).[51] On May 22, Cain threw a complete game and allowed just one run but was charged with the loss as Oakland defeated the Giants 1–0.[52] In his next start, on May 28, Cain shut out the Diamondbacks, allowing one hit (a double by Mark Reynolds) as the Giants won 5–0.[53] In the month of May, Cain pitched into the sixth inning or later in all six of his starts while giving up nine earned runs on 23 hits with 35 strikeouts and 18 walks in 44 23 innings pitched with an overall record of 3–3 and a 1.81 earned run average.[54] On August 1, for the first time in his career, Cain defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers by throwing 7 23 scoreless innings in a 2–0 victory.[55] He took a no-hitter into the eighth inning on September 26 against Colorado before finally allowing a one-out single to Jay Payton; Cain wound up allowing two runs while throwing a complete game in a 4–2 victory over the Rockies.[56]

For the season Cain was 13–11 with a 3.14 ERA, 177 strikeouts, and 61 walks. He finished sixth in the league with a 1.08 WHIP and 223 13 innings pitched. He tied for third with four complete games (tied with Ubaldo Jiménez and Johan Santana behind Roy Halladay's nine and Wainwright's five), including two shutouts (which made him one of seven players in the NL to throw two or more shutouts).[57] He tied for 12th in NL Cy Young Award voting with Bronson Arroyo.[58]

Cain reached the playoffs for the first time in his career as the Giants won the NL West to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2003. In Game 2 of the NL Division Series against the Atlanta Braves on October 8, Cain allowed one unearned run in 6 23 innings but received a no-decision as the Giants lost 5–4 in 11 innings.[59] In Game 3 of the NL Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies on October 19, he threw seven shutout innings and earned the win in a 3–0 victory over the Phillies.[60] The Giants defeated the Phillies in six games.[61] On October 28, Cain capped an impressive post-season performance as he pitched 7 23 scoreless innings in Game 2 of the World Series against the Texas Rangers (a 9–0 Giants' victory) to become the fifth pitcher to pitch at least 20 innings in the postseason without allowing an earned run.[62] His total post-season stats of a 2–0 record, with a 0.00 ERA through 2113 innings pitched helped the Giants win their first championship in San Francisco.[11]

2011[edit]

Cain threw a complete game against the Nationals on June 8, 2011, striking out 11, allowing one run, and hitting an RBI double against Yunesky Maya in a 3–1 Giants' victory.[63] On June 25, he threw seven shutout innings (retiring 14 hitters in a row at one point) and earned the win in a 1–0 victory over the Cleveland Indians.[64] In his next start on June 30, he again threw seven shutout innings but received a no-decision this time in the Giants' 13-inning, 5–2 loss to the Cubs.[65] He was an All-Star for the second time in his career in 2011; however, he did not appear in the All-Star Game because he started the final regular season game prior to the All-Star contest.[66] He had a 2.64 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break but earned just four wins in that stretch.[67] On July 27, Cain allowed an unearned run in seven innings, earning the win in a 2–1 victory over the Phillies.[68] Cain had one strikeout and one walk in the game, ending his Giants' record (since 1900) of 39 consecutive starts with more strikeouts than walks.[11] On September 18, Cain allowed five runs (three earned) in five innings and hit his fifth career home run against Esmil Rogers, earning the win as the Giants defeated Colorado 12–5.[69] In 33 starts, Cain had a 12–11 record, 179 strikeouts, and 63 walks. His 2.88 ERA was eighth in the league, and his 221 23 innings pitched were seventh in the league.[70] He finished eighth in Cy Young Award voting.[71]

2012[edit]

On April 2, 2012, Cain agreed to a five-year contract extension worth a guaranteed $112.5 million through 2017 with an option for 2018, at the time surpassing Kevin Brown for the largest deal for a right-handed pitcher. Cain earned a $5 million signing bonus, and will earn $20 million each season from 2013–17. His $21 million option for 2018 will vest automatically if he is not on the disabled list to an elbow or shoulder injury in 2017 and if he reaches 400 innings in 2016 and 2017 combined. If the option fails to vest, the Giants can either pick up the $21 million option or pay a $7.5 million buyout. Cain was scheduled to become a free agent after the 2012 season.[72]

On April 13, pitching the Giants' home opener, Cain threw a complete game shut out, striking out 11. Facing 28 batters in 9 innings, one over the minimum, he allowed a single baserunner on a hit to James McDonald, the pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates.[73] It was the third one-hitter of Cain's career.[74] In his next start, on April 18, Cain threw another 9 shutout innings using only 91 pitches, dueling Cliff Lee of the Phillies who threw 102 pitches over 10 scoreless innings. The first 9 innings took only 1 hour and 49 minutes. The Giants went on to win in the 11th inning.[75][76][77] Following a dominant first half, Cain was selected to the All-Star Game and was chosen by manager Tony La Russa to be the NL's starting pitcher. On July 10 at Kauffman Stadium, Cain allowed a leadoff single to Derek Jeter before retiring the six remaining hitters he faced; he was the winning pitcher in an 8–0 decision.[78] On July 21, Cain hit his sixth career home run, off of Phillies' pitcher Cole Hamels in the third inning of a 10-inning, 6–5 Giants' victory. Later in that inning Hamels hit his first career home run off of Cain, making this the first time since 2002 when two pitchers have homered off of each other in the same game (Kevin Millwood and Denny Stark were the last to do it).[79]

Cain had a 16–5 record in 2012. He tied with six other players for sixth in the NL in wins, finished fourth with a 2.79 ERA (behind Clayton Kershaw's 2.53, Dickey's 2.73, and Cueto's 2.78), and finished third with 219 13 innings pitched (behind Dickey's 233 23 and Kershaw's 227 23). He finished eighth with 193 strikeouts, joining teammates Bumgarner and Lincecum among the top 10 in the NL in that category. He was one of seven NL players to throw two or more shutouts.[80] Cain finished sixth in NL Cy Young Award voting.[81]

Cain reached the playoffs for the second time in his career as the Giants won the NL West after missing the playoffs in 2011. In Game 1 of the NL Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds on October 6, he allowed three runs in five innings and took the loss as the Reds defeated the Giants 5–2.[82] In Game 5 on October 11, he began the game with four scoreless innings; Cain would allow three runs over 5 23 innings as the Giants won 6–4 to advance to the next round of the playoffs.[83] In Game 3 of the NLCS against the Cardinals on October 17, Cain allowed three runs in 6 23 innings and was charged with the loss as the Giants lost 3–1.[84] On October 29, in Game 7, Cain threw 5 23 shutout innings and earned the win as the Giants won 9–0, marking the second time in the playoffs that Cain had won a series-clinching game.[85] In Game 4 of the 2012 World Series against the Tigers on October 28, Cain allowed three runs in seven innings, earning a no-decision as the Giants won 4–3 in 10 innings to win the World Series for the second time in Cain's Giants' tenure.[86]

Perfect game[edit]

On June 13, 2012, Cain threw the 22nd perfect game in MLB history, against the Houston Astros, striking out 14 (tying Sandy Koufax for the most strikeouts in a perfect game) in a 10–0 victory. It was the first perfect game for the Giants franchise (first in San Francisco), the ninth in NL history, the fifth no-hitter thrown by MLB pitchers in 2012, and the second perfect game of the season after Chicago White Sox pitcher Philip Humber threw one on April 21. Cain threw 125 pitches, the most by a pitcher in a perfect game, and received the most run support ever for a pitcher throwing a perfect game. Cain also singled against Rhiner Cruz and scored in the fifth inning.[87] San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, in recognition of the perfect game, presented Cain with the key to the city and made a proclamation that June 13 every year will be known as "Matt Cain Day".[88]

2013[edit]

Cain started on Opening Day for the Giants in 2013. He pitched six shutout innings before being removed due to a high pitch count; however, Kershaw threw a shutout, and the Dodgers beat the Giants 4–0.[89] On April 7, Cain threw two no-hit innings before giving up nine runs in the third inning and getting removed from the game, becoming the first Giants to allow nine runs in an inning since Ernie Shore in 1912. The Cardinals beat the Giants 14-3.[90] On August 23 against the Pirates, Cain was hit by Gaby Sánchez's line drive in the pitching arm,[91] and was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career.[92]

Pitching style[edit]

Cain features a mix of mostly four pitches: a four-seam fastball (90–94 mph), a slider (85–87), a curveball (77–79), and a changeup (84–86). Increasingly, he also throws a two-seam fastball at 90–93 mph. Cain leads with his four-seamer, throwing it over half the time in his career. His changeup is his secondary pitch to left-handed hitters, while he throws cutters as a secondary pitch to right-handed hitters. Cain throws curveballs in roughly equal proportions to righties and lefties.[93]

Personal life[edit]

Cain met his wife Chelsea Williams during spring training while she was a student at Arizona State University majoring in sociology. At the time Chelsea was waitressing at a local steakhouse. The two were married in fall 2009 and had their first child, daughter Hartley, in December 2010. The family has homes in Arizona and Tennessee, as well as a home in Noe Valley, making Cain one of only a few Giants players to own a home in San Francisco.[11][94] Cain enjoys hunting as a hobby.[18] Cain supports Project Open Hand,[11] and has expressed his support for same-sex marriage by appearing in the "No H8" photo campaign opposing California's Proposition 8.[95]

References[edit]

Footnotes

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  4. ^ Hallman, Wesley (June 18, 2012). "Baseball history maker tied to Vincent". Shelby County Reporter. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ Sencer, Lyle (February 28, 2013). "Encore to year for ages will be tough, but Cain's game". MLB.com. MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ Baggarly, p. 268
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  66. ^ Brock, Corey (July 13, 2011). "Panda, Wilson play big roles in All-Star win". MLB.com. MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved May 3, 2013. 
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Bibliography

  • Baggarly, Andrew. A Band of Misfits: Tales of the 2010 San Francisco Giants. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 978-1-60078-598-6. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Edwin Jackson
2003–04
Youngest Player in the
National League

2005
Succeeded by
Lastings Milledge
2006
Preceded by
Phillip Humber
Perfect game pitcher
June 13, 2012
Succeeded by
Félix Hernández
Preceded by
Kevin Millwood, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League & Tom Wilhelmsen (as a team) Johan Santana
No-hitter pitcher
June 13, 2012
Succeeded by
Félix Hernández
Preceded by
Roy Halladay
National League All-Star Game Starting Pitcher
2012
Succeeded by
Incumbent