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Watch: Matt Cain dominates in final career start

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Matt Cain took the mound for his final career start on Saturday afternoon. His 13-year run with the Giants has been buoyed by flashes of brilliance, from his contributions during three championship runs to the perfect game he executed against the Astros in 2012, and no matter his stat line on Saturday, it was bound to be an emotional day. Given his startling downturn over the past five seasons, no one would have blamed the veteran right-hander had he imploded yet again, mirroring some of the 9+ run, three-inning outings he weathered earlier in the year. Instead, the Giants were treated to a vintage performance from their former ace.

Cain dazzled the Padres’ end-of-season lineup (admittedly, not an impressive feat in and of itself), spitting four strikeouts, two hits and a walk over five scoreless innings. He retired the first six batters in order before allowing a leadoff single to Hunter Renfroe in the third, but induced three quick outs to end the threat and didn’t allow another batter past first base for the rest of his start.

It looked like Cain’s career finale was doomed to end on a sour note after he issued a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg in the fifth. Giants’ skipper Bruce Bochy approached the mound, incurring a stream of boos from the crowd, but ultimately decided to leave the rest of the inning to his starter. Cain didn’t disappoint, inducing a fly out from Renfroe, whiffing Austin Hedges on four pitches and getting Jhoulys Chacin to ground out to end the inning.

The 32-year-old tipped his cap to the crowd as he walked off the mound, then tossed it into the stands. He wouldn’t take the win — Wil Myersgame-tying home run took care of that in the sixth — but there was no more fitting footnote to an incredible career.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: