He hasn’t reached Philip Humber territory in terms of struggling after throwing a perfect game, but Matt Cain has a 4.40 ERA since making history on June 14 and the Giants have lost six of his nine starts during that time.
Cain has a strong 46/16 K/BB ratio in 57 innings over that nine-start stretch, but he’s served up 10 homers in 243 plate appearances after allowing just seven homers in 364 plate appearances through the perfect game. And last season Cain allowed a grand total of nine homers in 907 plate appearances.
Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com notes that Cardinals hitters fouled off 37 pitches in beating Cain last night, including 13 with two strikes. And afterward Cain admitted that “putting away guys better” has been a problem.
And then there’s this tidbit from Baggarly:
Those who use advanced metrics have been forever fascinated by his suppressed home run/fly ball ratio, sometimes calling it unexplainable or unsustainable but certainly calling it an outlier. Last year, just 2.9 percent of Cain’s fly balls were home runs; the NL average was 7.9 percent. It was the most extreme example in what’s been a career trend. … This season, perhaps he’s deviating to the norm. His home run/fly ball ratio is 7.7 percent, nestled right up against the NL average of 7.9 percent.
Cain becoming mortal in terms of allowing homers is definitely interesting, but it’s also worth noting that even with that career-worst homer-to-fly ball rate overall this season his ERA (3.01) is better than his xFIP (3.62) for the eighth consecutive year.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.