MLB Weekly Roundup: Cain’s Perfecto, Yanks Rollin’
by Preston Barclay | Georgetown University
The first two weeks of June have been excellent for sports lovers. In the states this past week we saw L.A. win the Stanley Cup, the Heat and Thunder wage war in the NBA Finals, and the conclusion of the U.S. Open golf tournament. Across the pond, Europe’s best national soccer clubs continue to combat in the EURO 2012 tournament to add the cherry on top of a delicious sports Sunday (get it?).
But in a few weeks time, you will all be stuck again with baseball before the Olympics start in a month, so you might as well stay attuned to the national pastime. Here is this week’s rundown of the past week’s most significant events and storylines in Major League Baseball.
Matt Cain Makes History with Perfect Game
Another week, another no-hitter. BORING! But wait, 14 strikeouts, no walks, and no errors either? On Wednesday, San Francisco Giants ace Matt Cain pitched one of the most impressive games in Major League history, blanking the Houston Astros in a 10-0 victory.
Cain’s perfecto is miraculously the second of the year (Phil Humber, May 21), but just the 22nd in Major League Baseball history. His 14 punch-outs, however, tie him with Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax for the most strikeouts in a perfect game. Likewise, with a game score of 101 (a stat that measures innings pitched, walks, strikeouts, hits, and earned runs), Cain and Koufax’s performances are tied for the second best all-time behind Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout, one-hitter on May 6, 1998 that produced a score of 105.
Cain’s gem came at an opportune time for the Giants as they continue to surge in the National League. Aside from leading the wild card race, San Francisco trails the division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers by a reasonable five games. At the same time, the perfect game serves as a coming out party for Cain as a legitimate ace and worthy of the 6-year, $127.5 million extension he received during the offseason. With two time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum struggling for the Giants, Cain has assumed the top spot on the staff with an 8-2 record, 2.18 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and 96 strikeouts in 95 innings thus far in 2012.
Red-Hot Bronx Bombers Hitting Bombs
After Sunday’s 4-1 victory over the Washington Nationals, the New York Yankees have re-established themselves as the beast of the east after sweeping three consecutive series amidst a nine-game winning streak. My (reluctant) World Series pick now leads the AL East by 1.5 games over the Baltimore Orioles with a 40-25 record, while leading the league in homeruns with 97 that includes six players with double digit totals.
Orioles, Mets, Pirates Still Surprising
My pessimism for the Orioles has been well documented all year but they continue to hang around and perhaps are finally for real as they stand at 39-27 and just 1.5 games back of the Yankees in the AL East. Likewise in the National League, the Mets continue to remain afloat in a similarly brutal NL East, 4.5 games back behind the arms of ace Johan Santana and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey who recently had his franchise-record 32 2/3 innings scoreless streak come to an end in a victory over the Rays.
The Pirates, however, could be the biggest surprise, led by legitimate MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen who leads his team in batting average (.323), homeruns (11), runs batted in (37), and steals (13). I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing. The rest of their offense is just awful and they really have no business having a winning record, but hey, whatever works right?
Red Sox & Phillies Still Struggling
Boston and Philadelphia are miraculously still in the basement of their divisions. Good news? They each have several injured stars that should provide second half reinforcements. Bad news? They need them now before it’s too late.
Speaking of too late, can I please change my NL champion pick? You’re killing me Philly. ‘Til next week.Preston Barclay is a sports contributor for NextGen Journal. He is a rising junior at Georgetown University in the McDonough School of Business, while also serving as a sports columnist for the school’s student newspaper, The Hoya.