06/14/12 2:55 AM ET
Cain is first perfecto, but Giants know no-nos
By Jon Star / MLB.com
Matt Cain's 14-strikeout perfect effort in a 10-0 win over the Astros on Wednesday night will make June 13, 2012, an indelible mark in the club's and MLB's history books -- 54 years and five no-hitters after the team moved from New York to San Francisco. Cain's perfect game extends a line of San Francisco pitchers, including a pair of Hall of Famers, who posted no-hit efforts and etched their spot in San Francisco lore.
Before Cain carved out his gem, it was Jonathan Sanchez who came within one misplayed ball by former Giants third baseman Juan Uribe of owning the club's first perfecto. On July 10, 2009, Sanchez retired the first 22 Padres batters he faced before Chase Headley's infield chopper was bobbled, erasing perfection but leaving the no-hitter intact. Sanchez went on to retire the final five batters en route to an almost equally dominant performance as Cain -- 11 strikeouts, zero walks -- to register the first Giants no-hitter since Sept. 29, 1976.
It was the third-to-last game of the regular season when John Montefusco no-hit the Braves in '76. Like Cain, Montefusco was the beneficiary of plenty of early run support -- an 8-0 lead by the sixth inning -- which helped him cruise through a performance in which he struck out four and walked just one. It was the Giants' final win of the season.
Montefusco's no-hitter came approximately 13 months after the third no-hitter in San Francisco history -- Aug. 24, 1975. That day, it was Ed Halicki who highlighted a rather pedestrian year by no-hitting the Mets in Candlestick Park. Halicki fanned 10 batters, walked two and rarely faced a threat as the Giants posted two runs in the first inning, two in the fifth and two in the seventh to give the right-hander all the support he needed. Halicki went on to finish the year with a 9-13 record and 3.49 ERA, with 153 strikeouts.
Some no-hitters feature games that are a bit closer, and that's exactly what Gaylord Perry got on Sept. 17, 1968. The Hall of Famer, then in his seventh season with the Giants, no-hit the eventual National League-pennant-winning Cardinals behind a nine-strikeout, two-walk performance. While Perry kept the Cardinals off the board, the Giants merely scratched out one first-inning run and only four hits against another Hall of Famer, Bob Gibson.
|Amos Russie||July 31, 1891||Brooklyn||6-0|
|Christy Mathewson||July 15, 1901||St. Louis||5-0|
|Christy Mathewson||June 13, 1905||Chicago||1-0|
|Hooks Wiltse||July 4, 1908||Philadelphia||1-0|
|Jeff Tesreau||Sept. 6, 1912||Philadelphia||3-0|
|Rube Marquard||April 15, 1915||Brooklyn||2-0|
|Jesse Barnes||May 7, 1922||Philadelphia||6-0|
|Carl Hubbell||May 8, 1929||Pittsburgh||11-0|
|Juan Marichal||June 15, 1963||Houston||1-0|
|Gaylord Perry||Sept. 17, 1968||St. Louis||1-0|
|Ed Halicki||Aug. 24, 1975||New York||6-0|
|John Montefusco||Sept. 29, 1976||Atlanta||9-0|
|Jonathan Sanchez||July 10, 2009||San Diego||8-0|
|Matt Cain||June 13, 2012||Houston||10-0|
Five years earlier, and almost 49 years to the day before Cain's perfecto, Juan Marichal set the pace for no-hitters in the Bay Area. The 1983 Hall of Fame inductee was 26 years old when, behind his famous high leg kick, he twirled a no-no while striking out five and walking two against the Houston Colt 45s on June 15, 1963.
Like Perry's no-hitter, Marichal's success came behind just one run of support. However, unlike Perry, Marichal had to last until the eighth inning before the Giants scratched out their lone run via a Chuck Hiller RBI single. Perhaps the no-hitter was a sign of things to come for Marichal, who ended up leading the NL in victories in 1963, with a 25-8 record, 2.41 ERA and Major League-best 321 1/3 innings pitched.
The Giants weren't strangers to no-hitters before moving West, having collected eight no-hitters while calling New York home, including one that came 107 years ago to the day of Cain's perfect game, when Hall of Famer Christy Mathewson no-hit the Cubs on June 13, 1905 -- nearly four years after throwing his first no-hitter on July 15, 1901, against the Cardinals. The Giants' no-hit era in New York was bookended by a pair of Hall of Famers -- Amos Rusie's no-no on July 31, 1891, for the first in franchise history, and Carl Hubbell, who threw the last New York Giants no-hitter on May 8, 1929, against the Pirates.
Jon Star is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.