Cain Pitches One-Hit Shutout Against Pirates

Garrett Jones struck out three times against Cain in the Pirates 5-0 loss.

The Pittsburgh Pirates bats have gotten off to a slow start to begin the young 2012 season. And on Friday, they were even more silent than they have been over the first six games at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Right-hander Matt Cain started the game by retiring 17 Pirates in a row, tossing 5.2 perfect innings before pitcher James McDonald broke up the no-hitter with a single into left field.

The Pirates saw just two hard hit balls off Cain over his complete game shutout. Casey McGehee connected for what could have been a double to center, but Angel Pagan made a spectacular catch on the warning track for the out. The only other hard hit ball was by McDonald, who broke up the perfect game.

Over the three-game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, the Pirates whiffed 27 times, opposed to drawing just two walks. The club saw that number increase to a season total of 58 after striking out 11 times against Cain. Alex Presley and Neil Walker each picked up a pair, while Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones had three over their three at-bats. The club drew no walks and had just the lone hit in the 5-0 loss.

Right-hander James McDonald allowed three runs on six hits over 5.2 innings. He walked three and struck out just one while throwing 88 pitches, 43 for strikes.

For the second straight game, the Pirates saw their starting pitcher give up runs in the first frame. Right-hander Jeff Karstens allowed three to the Dodgers in the first inning of a 4-3 loss in Los Angeles on Thursday.

After needing just two pitches to retire his first batter, McDonald gave up a one-out single into right field. Buster Posey, in his first game played at AT&T Park since 2010, took a 1-0 fastball off the wall in center field for a RBI double. Aubrey Huff followed with a base knock into right to score Posey for the second run of the inning.

McDonald didn’t have his best stuff in his second start of the 2012 season, but was able to limit the damage.

After pitching four scoreless innings, McDonald gave up a third and final run in the sixth inning. Pablo Sandoval hit a one-out double off the wall in right field and scored on an RBI knock by Nate Schierholtz. Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle called upon lefty reliever Tony Watson, who has not allowed an inherited runner to score yet this season (five base runners), to get the final out of the inning.

Right-hander Joel Hanrahan came on to pitch the 9th inning to get work in. It was his first appearance since Sunday’s walkoff win against Philadelphia. Hanrahan gave up a leadoff single to Melky Cabrera and a two-out two-run homer to Aubrey Huff.

With the 5-0 loss, the Pirates fall to 2-5 on the season and have now lost four in a row after winning two straight.

Game Notes: 

  • Relief — Tony Watson: 0.1 IP; Evan Meek: IP; Joel Hanrahan: IP, 2H, 2R, K, HR
  • Centerfielder Andrew McCutchen brought a five-game hit streak into today’s game (9-for-19, .474) but it ended after he went 0-for-3.
  • In the first four games of this road trip, the Pirates have yet to have a hit with a runner in scoring position. The club’s last hit with RISP was McCutchen’s game-winning single Sunday vs. Philadelphia.
  • The Pirates have received two walks in the last four games and a Major League low seven free passes in their first seven games overall.


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I  Wouldn’t Be So mad if Huntingdon wasn’t so freaking smug this off season with his acquisitions. Go back to the now infamous Pompeani interview on 93.7 The Fan. When he was challenged with a roster that any fan with half a brain could see was a weaker lineup Huntingdon became indignant. Right now this offensively challenged team is giving up 9 of their 27 outs before the game starts has virtually no chance to compete. This in turn causes their pitching, which has been good, to try to be perfect throughout a game. It’s a prescription that is destined to fail in the long term. However, even the most optimistic fan couldn’t have expected it so soon. This is virtually the same team that tanked in the second half of last season.


Given that the prevailing wisdom seems to be that having a near-perfect game tossed against us means we can’t hit and are a terrible team, I did a little perfect-game research.  Please note, none of this is intended to predict the Pirates’ success this year, but it may alleviate some panic.

Of the 16 perfect games thrown since the end of the “dead ball” era, 7 were done against teams with winning records, including 5 against teams with 90+ wins for the season.  Of particular note is, of course, the 1956 Brooklyn Dodgers (WS), but the 1988 LA Dodgers were WS winners and perfectoed that year.  Seven of the perfect games were thrown against teams with 90+ losses.

Only one of the games was thrown against a team that finished last in its league in batting average, the 1981 Toronto Blue Jays.  Some of the teams were quite strong offensively including the 2004 Braves (.270 BA/.343 OBP), the 2009 Rays (.263/.343), and the 1998 Twins (.266/.308) .  Special mention goes to the 1922 Tigers, who had season averages of .306/.373 and some guy named Cobb who hit .401, but still had a perfect game pitched against them.

As a couple of other notes that I thought were interesting: Since the beginning of the DH rule (1973), there have been 6 perfect games thrown in the AL and only 4 in the NL, which was the opposite of what I expected.  Of the all-time 20 perfect games, only 5 have been thrown by current HOFers (Addie Joss, Cy Young, Catfish Hunter, Jim Bunning, and Sandy Koufax) although Randy Johnson and Roy Halladay will likely add to those numbers when their names become available.  A lot more perfect games have been thrown by guys with names like Braden and Clyde than by the immortals of the mound.

Again, this isn’t to say everything is okay, it’s simply to suggest that one game (even in the midst of a REALLY bad hitting week) shouldn’t be extrapolated to a full-season of futility.


It is still very early, only 7 games, not a season, only 1 pitcher that would not be considered an ace makes it tough to get on track, my only fear is that trying to hit great pitching as much as they are is messing with these guys minds, no one is going to tell me that 5 or 6 of these guys are below .200 hitters, when they hit and they will, the offense will not look so bad and believe me the offense looks bad, no sugar coating here.

John Lease

One hit, not too good.  Presley, McGehee, McCutchen are the only guys hitting.  3 hitters on a team, really not too good.  77 more losses for 20th straight losing seasons.  Seems pretty doable.

This offense is pathetic.  Shouldn’t surprise anyone though given that the our only “improvements” over last seasons team was that Doumit was replaced by Barajas and Cedeno was replaced by Barmes.  Both Barajas and Cedeno were two guys who were extreme pull hitters whose power gets sucked away by PNC’s huge dimensions.  We don’t want to talk about that now though do we? 


When was the last time a pitcher not only led his team in hits but had more hits than all position players combined. Thanks JMac for saving this terrible hitting team from going into the history books losing to a perfect game pitcher.

Those pitchers realize they have to do it all.

Very early but looks like there’s a possibility the GM worked his magic again getting his veteran clubhouse fit with Barmes and Rod.

James Vargo

I look forward to the minor league box scores these days. It’s the only time these guys will play well, because when they come up, they stink. Building thru the draft is a grueling high-risk gamble, even more when you key on pitching. Will the Buccos turn it around? Who knows. But this, as did spring training, demonstrates the lack of talent we have.   

Can’t wait until they get back home — but will they be 2-10 by then? 

Randy Linville

Which came first the chicken or the egg?
1. Pirates hitters are not patient and therefore swing at everything
2. Opposing pitchers pound strike zone because they don’t fear anyone in the lineup

Either way the offense has gotten off to a very ugly start. 


Word gets around the league fast.  I think the answer is two.

I said it in the off season, the Pirates need offense.  But many defended the idea that young pitchers, ground ball pitchers need good defense to protect their fragile psyche.  If you polled Pirate pitchers right now, I think run support would poll pretty highly as something they want most.

John DiVito

We are seven games into the season… please, relax.  If things are still this bad in May, then you can light the torches.


What’s the point of having McClouth if they are using Jones in RF and having Alvarez wiff 3 times. No way Alvarez should have hit that 3rd time, hit McClouth for him, move McGehee to 3rd and Jones to first. It’s true you can’t single out Alvarez, but my gosh, it’s the same thing over and over with him. At least others have a little track record to go on. The whole team stinks at the plate right now, but Alvarez is continuing his performance from last year. When is Gregg Ritchie going to be held accountable as well? Someone needs to take the fall for this offense right now.


They got one hit as a team. You can pretty much put the whole team in there.


At this point, Alvarez is just flat out embarrassing




You can’t single out Alvarez when the only person to get a hit was J-Mac. The entire offense has been a joke thus far. What’s frustrating to me is they take pitches that are down the heart of the plate and end up chasing bad pitches.

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