June 13th, 2012: The Two Greatest Pitching Performances In A Single Day Ever?
This past Wednesday night, on June 13th, 2012, we saw arguably the best night in baseball history with two pitching performances. In Tampa Bay, New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey pitched a complete game one hitter, while allowing one unearned run, walking no one, and striking out 12. The only hit was an infield single with two outs in the first inning by B.J. Upton. David Wright tried to bare hand the ball but missed the ball after it took a funny hop. After the game, with it being a one hitter, and the possibility that the Upton-Wright play could maybe have been an error, the Mets appealed the decision of a base hit. Two days later, on Friday the 15th, Major League Baseball upheld the decision of Upton being given a base hit. Had the play been ruled an error, it would’ve have been the second no-hitter in a month for the Mets, the second in a two-week period. The first was on June 1st, when Johan Santana no hit the St.Louis Cardinals at Citi Field. That ended up being the first no-hitter in the Mets’ franchise history. The Mets had waited 51 seasons for their first no-hitter. How ironic and strange would it have been to have waited 51 seasons for a no-hitter, and then you get your first two in a two-week period?
On that same Wednesday night, on the 13th, the baseball world witnessed a perfect game by San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain against the Houston Astros at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Cain obviously didn’t allow a base runner, and he had 14 strikeouts. The Giants beat the Astros 10-0. Cain tied Sandy Koufax for the most strikeouts in a perfect game with 14. Koufax did it for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1965, in a 1-0 win against the Chicago Cubs. Cain almost lost the no-hitter when Astros center fielder Jordan Schafer hit a deep drive to right center field. That’s where Giants right fielder, Gregor Blanco, made a spectacular diving catch to preserve the perfect game. Blanco layed out onto the warning track to make a great catch. The Giants’ TV announcers ended up comparing that catch to the catch made by DeWayne Wise in Mark Buehrle’s perfect game in 2009. I can’t really see a comparison, considering Wise leaped over the wall to rob a home run and fell back into the field juggling the ball. Both plays were great, but Wise’s was greater.
Anyways, is it possible that we saw the two most greatest pitching performances on a single day? Considering we’ve only seen two no hitters in a single day just once, on June 29th, 1990, when Dodgers pitcher, Fernando Valenzuela, no hit the Cardinals, and when A’s pitcher, Dave Stewart, no hit the Toronto Blue Jays. I know what you’re saying now that I brought up that stat, “Oh well since you’re comparing a no-hitter and one hitter to two no hitters, it’s no competition, two no hitters obviously win”. Ok, believe in that, but in both Valenzuela’s no-hitter and Stewart’s no-hitter, both pitchers allowed three walks. The Dodgers also committed one error in Valenzuela’s no-hitter as well. So both games were far from perfect games. Valenzuela had seven strikeouts in his no-hitter and Stewart had 12 punch outs in his.
Now, to Dickey and Cain’s games. R.A. Dickey didn’t allow a walk and struck out 12 batters. Yes, he allowed a run, but that was because of an error, two passed balls, and a ground out. The hit allowed was a two out infield single by B.J. Upton in the first inning, on a ball third baseman David Wright tried to bare hand. Wright missed the ball completely. It raised people’s eyebrows and made people wonder if that play could maybe have been an error if Wright had just used his glove to catch the ball and make a quick throw to first. The Mets did appeal the ruling of a base hit but were shot down. Its understandable considering Upton is a speedy runner and would have been hard to throw out whether Wright did make the bare hand play or just used his glove and make a quick throw. Either way, some people will still consider an error and give Dickey the no-hitter. So since it’s such a close play, in a way, it’s the closest you can come to a no-hitter. Also, for those not totally into facts about no hitters, a pitcher can allow a run during a no-hitter, and it counts. So if Wright had just gloved that Upton hit or actually made the bare hand play, Dickey would have a no-hitter. Dickey dominated all game, he struck out 12, kept the Rays hit-less from two outs in the first, until the end of the game. The run scored in the ninth was fluky because it scored with help from an error, two passed balls, and a ground out. No walks, no hits. The lead off batter was lucky to get on base, let alone score. Many people will call me a homer for saying this since I’m a Mets fan, but it is ironic that the lead off baserunner reached on a throwing error by David Wright of all people. That’s also not to mention being moved up to third thanks to two straight passed balls, when the catcher, Mike Nickeas, had been handling Dickey’s knuckle ball well all game. If Wright makes the perfect throw, it’d be a perfect ninth inning for Dickey. If Nickeas had fielded the two passed balls cleanly, the runner remains at first, and the ground out that scored him would have actually been a double play to end the game. So it was a very lucky run scored.
On to Cain now. There isn’t much to say, the guy was perfect. There was no bang-bang play that can make anyone put an asterisk next to Cain’s perfect game. All plays were clean and Cain dominated. The 14 strikeouts were tied for most in a perfect game. Many people believe this was the single most dominant and greatest pitched game in MLB history. It definitely has the argument. I mean without even thinking, there have been 22 perfect games in history, Cain shares the lead for the most strikeouts in one. So yes, you can go with Cain or Koufax having pitched the greatest game in MLB history. You can’t necessarily be told that you’re wrong or an idiot for thinking so. Cain is one of only 22 players in the history of the game to not allow a single base runner. And struck out 14. The guy isn’t even a big strikeout pitcher, which makes it even greater. In the current day, you’d only expect this type of game by Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Stephen Strasburg, Jered Weaver, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, or Clayton Kershaw. Halladay threw a perfect game two years ago and struck out 11, so that was dominant, but not as dominant as Cain’s perfecto. Although I never saw Koufax’s perfect game, obviously, I’ll go ahead and agree that Cain threw the greatest game in MLB history, or at least shares that title with Koufax now.
Now onto the debate. Are two no hitters, that were far from perfect, with a combined six walks, one combined error and 19 combined strikeouts, the two greatest pitching performances in a single day or was a perfect game and a one hitter, in which there were no combined walks, one combined error, and 26 strikeouts combined? Arguments can be made for either, but just remember that the one hitter, could have been made a no-hitter, had the official scorer felt different about an infield hit in the first inning. If Dickey indeed got the no-hitter, I think it’s a definite yes that Cain and Dickey share the title for the two greatest pitching performances in a single day over Stewart and Valenzuela. Some people will still pick Dickey and Cain now, but I think the one unearned run allowed in Dickey’s one hitter, could make a lot of people think differently. Either way, it’s very close, judging by box scores, since I didn’t see Stewart’s and Valenzuela’s no hitters, but I gotta go with Dickey and Cain pitching the two greatest games on a single day in MLB history. I also think it helps that I witnessed Dickey’s game to better understand everything that went on. So there you have it, I think we did witness the two greatest pitching performances on a single day, with R.A. Dickey’s one hitter and Matt Cain’s perfect game. What do you think?