Thor Nystrom

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Citizen Cain's Rosebud

Thursday, June 14, 2012


On a night of dominant pitching performances, Matt Cain easily overshadowed the rest. Cain's perfect game, the first in Giants' history, included fourteen strikeouts, tying him with Sandy Koufax for the most punch-outs accrued in a perfecto. Koufax's effort had stood unmatched since September 6, 1965. After rewarding Cain with a six-year extension, the Giants are thrilled with the right-hander's season to this point.  

Cain's effort would have been for naught had Gregor Blanco not laid out in center field in the seventh inning to make a spectacular diving grab. Blanco chased down Jordan Schafer's long drive to center, evoking memories of Willie Mays -- had Mays hit the dirt after his basket catch, and had it been in defense of perfection. It was a play that stands up defensively with DeWayne Wise's ninth-inning Mark Buehrle saver in 2009.  

The game itself was never in doubt. San Francisco slaughtered the hopeless Astros, scoring in every inning through the fifth to take a 10-0 lead, and making J.A. Happ a footnote to history. With that breathing room, the focus was squarely on Cain. He delivered.

Mixing breaking pitches and a low-90's fastball, Cain mystified a punchless lineup. Cain's 125 pitches thrown might have been the most ever in a perfect game, but he made them count. It was the second perfect game this season, following Philip Humber's, and the third no-hitter in the span of a week and a half, after Johan Santana and an assortment of Mariners threw no-nos. But Cain's effort will go down in history in a way that the previous efforts will not.

It will be interesting to see how Cain performs in his next start, following the high pitch count. New York pushed back Santana's subsequent outing, but Cain is younger and not saddled with health concerns.


R.A.D. Money

R.A. Dickey earned his MLB-leading 10th victory and broke the Mets' franchise record of 32 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings by hurling a one-hitter against the Rays on Wednesday.

Dickey allowed just one unearned run while striking out a career-high 12 batters in the 9-1 win.

Were it not for a David Wright error in the ninth, the knuckleballer's scoreless streak would still be intact.

Allow me to make this personal for a second. I covered the Twins for MLB.com in 2008 and filled in for several series in 2009, when Minnesota ditched Dickey after he logged a 4.62 ERA through 64 1/3 innings as a low-leverage long reliever.

Bill Smith -- the Mr. Magoo of this generation's baseball general managers -- ran the show at the time, so the mistake was understandable. Nobody, however -- not even the media, which adored the affable and generous Dickey -- disagreed with the decision.

The 37-year-old's career took off shortly thereafter. Since he joined the Mets in 2010, he has gone 28-23 with a 2.97 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 464 innings (entering Wednesday).  

Dickey owns a spectacular 2.20 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 2012. He needs to be active in all formats.

Plouffe or Lies?

What do you believe?

That a player who batted .258/.320/.406 in 3,538 minor league plate appearances will never have success in the majors, or that a skilled former first-round pick can develop late and become a solid major-league regular?

Trevor Plouffe smacked his fourth home run in his last five games in Wednesday's loss to the Phillies. He has six in 10 June games.

Plouffe has posted a .417/.447/.944 line in 36 at-bats this month. He's been raking since late-May.

Now that he's seized Minnesota's starting third base job -- and has multi-position eligibility, including shortstop, in most leagues -- owners in every format with an available bench spot need to take a shot on Plouffe.

National League Quick Hits: Troy Tulowitzki (groin) left Wednesday's rehab game after hurting himself running the bases for Triple-A Colorado Springs; he'll be examined in Colorado and could be sidelined until July ... Bud Norris exited Tuesday's outing with a sprained knee, but could still make his scheduled start Sunday ... Skip Schumaker (hamstring) began a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday and could return to the Cardinals early next week ... Adam LaRoche missed Wednesday's game after fouling a ball off his right foot Tuesday; he should be back in the lineup Friday ... Chris Carpenter (neck, shoulder) threw 26 pitches off a mound Wednesday, the first time he had done so since being shut down during spring training ... Drew Stubbs was out of the starting lineup again Wednesday; he hasn't played since last Tuesday due to a strained left oblique and Reds manager Dusty Baker said the team hasn't discussed placing him on the disabled list ... Stephen Strasburg, who became the first pitcher to reach 100 strikeouts this season, improved to 8-1 by allowing two runs in six innings  against the Blue Jays ... Tyler Moore hit a pair of homers and drove in five runs against Toronto ... Mike Leake (illness) will start Thursday against the Indians ... Placido Polanco returned to the Phillies' starting lineup Wednesday against the Twins after missing a week due to a laceration on his left index finger ... Aaron Miles, who had been playing for the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate, has retired from baseball ... Freddy Galvis was diagnosed with a pars fracture in his back and is out indefinitely ... The Braves still aren't sure if Kris Medlen will return to the majors as a starter or a reliever ... Carlos Lee (hamstring) is expected to begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi on Thursday ... Carlos Beltran smacked his 19th home run of the season Wednesday; he has 130 total bases and 47 RBI in 61 games this year ... Brandon Phillips went 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI in Wednesday's win against the Indians ... Lance Lynn hurled 7 1/3 shutout innings against the White Sox.

American League Quick Hits: Yoenis Cespedes left Wednesday's game in the second inning after aggravating his left hamstring injury; he had missed a week of action with the ailment. Cespedes won't play Thursday but could potentially function as the designated hitter on Friday ... No. 2 overall pick Byron Buxton received a $6 million bonus from the Twins ... The Blue Jays placed Brandon Morrow on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique. Toronto hasn't issued a timetable for Morrow's return ... To replace Morrow on the roster, the club recalled Yan Gomes. The 24-year-old is worth a look in AL-only leagues, especially in formats where he is catcher-eligible ... ESPN's Buster Olney reported that MLB has reviewed video of Jose Valverde allegedly throwing a spitball on Sunday ... Rob Bradford of WEEI.com wrote that "a number of inquiries" have been made regarding free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd ... Brian Matusz was scratched from Wednesday's scheduled start after he was struck in the face during a bunting drill prior to Tuesday's game; he will start on Friday against the Braves ... Jake Arrieta started in his place, holding the Pirates to one run on seven hits in seven innings, striking out nine; Orioles manager Buck Showalter indicated that Arrieta would receive another start ... The White Sox released Terry Doyle, the No. 2 pick in this winter's Rule 5 Draft. Returned by Minnesota to Chicago in the spring, the 26-year-old had a 2.83 ERA and 71/18 K/BB ratio over 76 1/3 innings with Triple-A Charlotte. He is expected to pursue a career in Japan ... Nelson Cruz missed his second consecutive game due to flu-like symptoms and isn't a lock to return Thursday ... The Mariners made a slew of roster moves on Wednesday, activating Franklin Gutierrez from the disabled list and promoting Steve Delabar and Erasmo Ramirez; to make room, Alex Liddi and Blake Beavan were sent to Triple-A and Stephen Pryor and Mark Carp were placed on the DL  ... Adam Dunn was scratched from Wednesday's game due to a sprained ankle ... The Royals activated Jonathan Sanchez from the disabled list and he held the Brewers to one run on seven hits in five innings ... An MRI on Brandon McCarthy's right shoulder ruled out structural damage and Oakland is optimistic that he'll avoid another stint on the disabled list ... Former A's pitcher Ben Sheets threw for scouts from the Phillies, Braves, Yankees, and Angels Wednesday, according to Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com ... Joba Chamberlain is hoping to rejoin the Yankee bullpen shortly after the All-Star break ... Kyle Drabek felt a pop in his right elbow before leaving Wednesday's start in the fifth inning; he will be re-evaluated on Thursday.



Thor Nystrom is a Rotoworld contributor on the MLB and NFL Draft sections. Follow him on Twitter @thorku.
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