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 Myers‘ game-tying home run took care of that in the sixth — but there was no more fitting footnote to an incredible career.
Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.
It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.
The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.
In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.
Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.