I was glad I didn't manage the Giants last night. Matt Cain had a no-hitter going into the eighth inning, and Cain was creeping well over the 100-pitch mark. Now, I'm far from a pitch-count zealot. I have a feeling if we had 14 fingers and toes, that the de facto level of acceptable pitches would be 140. Maybe Antonio Alfonseca would have been a great workhorse starter. We'll never know, but it really seems as if 100 is a pretty arbitrary number. However:
- Cain did look fatigued in the eighth, at least with his body language, yet the fastball velocity was maintained. If he took the no-hitter into the ninth, starting the inning at 140 pitches, I'm not sure how to justify removing him. Would the extra twenty to thirty pitches over what we're comfortable with be worth the confidence boost Cain and the team would receive from a no-hitter?
- It was a one-run game. The Angels were unable to touch Cain all night, but how far would you go to protect the no-hitter? If Cain walked two to lead off an inning, should he continue? If he walked three? Winning the game was the first priority, and it would be hard to have much confidence in a guy who couldn't find the strike zone deep into a ballgame.
It was still a fantastic game. Everyone who has written something like, "Cain's a fine young pitcher, but he doesn't have electric stuff", can go stick their finger in a socket.
Fun Fact of the Day: This was brought up before in a diary or in the comments by a reader, but it is definitely worth repeating. Cain has held right-handed hitters to a .188/.265/.271 average. He's allowed .255/.342/.509 to lefties. It's almost as if Steve Reed was a starting pitcher. I'm hoping consistency with a curveball or change can keep the left-handers honest, but I'm wondering if this will be a chronic problem. That seems ridiculous to dwell on now, though. It's easy to forget Cain's the equivalent to a junior in college.