Did Cain pitch greatest game in baseball history?

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Did Cain pitch greatest game in baseball history?

From Comcast SportsNet
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- For all those Giants masterpieces, from Christy Mathewson to Juan Marichal to Gaylord Perry, this one by Matt Cain topped them all. Cain pitched the franchise's first perfect game and the 22nd in major league history, striking out a career-high 14 and getting help from two spectacular catches to beat the Houston Astros 10-0 on Wednesday night. Cain's 125-pitch gem for San Francisco featured a pair of great plays by his corner outfielders. He got pinch-hitter Jason Castro on a grounder to third for his 27th and final out with the sellout crowd of 42,298 roaring. "This is incredible right now," Cain said. "It was unbelievable. The guys did a great job making it, in a way, kind of relaxing, because they were able to get on the board early." It was the fifth no-hitter in the majors already this season and second perfect game. Another Year of the Pitcher? You bet. In the very ballpark where Barry Bonds made home run history five summers ago, Cain produced the signature moment for pitchers. It was the 14th no-hitter in club history -- Mathewson pitched Nos. 2 and 3 in 1901 and '05, and fellow Hall of Famers Carl Hubbell, Marichal and Perry had one apiece. Left fielder Melky Cabrera chased down Chris Snyder's one-out flyball in the sixth, scurrying back to make a leaping catch at the wall. Cain raised both arms and slapped his glove in delight when Cabrera made the play. Then, right fielder Gregor Blanco ran into deep right-center to make a diving catch on the warning track and rob Jordan Schafer for the first out of the seventh. The 27-year-old pitcher hugged Blanco in the dugout after the inning. "Those were unbelievable catches," Cain said. "I mean that right there, that changes the whole thing." Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox tossed the majors' last perfecto at Seattle on April 21. This is the second time in three years there have been two perfect games in the same season -- before that, the only other time it happened was in 1880. Cain (8-2) accomplished a feat last done in the Bay Area by A's lefty Dallas Braden on Mother's Day 2010. Braden tweeted Wednesday night: "What a beautiful game. Congrats 2 Matt Cain & a historic franchise & city. A special memory ill tell someones kids about! (hash)eraofthepitcher." Not since 1917 have there been five no-hitters in a season by mid-June. The only year that came close was 1990, when Fernando Valenzuela and Dave Stewart each pitched no-hitters on June 29 -- the fourth and fifth of the season. This year, Johan Santana tossed the New York Mets' first no-hitter on June 1 and six Seattle pitchers shut down the Los Angeles Dodgers last Friday. Jered Weaver had one for the Los Angeles Angels on May 2. The Astros were no-hit for the fifth time and first since Carlos Zambrano did so for the Cubs on Sept. 14, 2008. "Just an incredible night," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We were all pulling so hard." The Giants made a big commitment to Cain this spring, locking him up for a long haul -- and he showed exactly why general manager Brian Sabean has vowed to keep his talented pitchers. In a week when the city's attention turned to golf and the U.S. Open, Cain delivered his most impressive gem yet in his 216th career start. The 125 pitches were the most ever thrown in a perfect game. The two-time All-Star who had long been the Giants starter who endured a lack of run support already was rewarded with a new 127.5 million, six-year contract in early April before the season started. This certainly meant as much or more to the homegrown pitcher. Cain threw 86 pitches for strikes, faced just four full counts and still clocked 90 mph in the ninth. Cain followed up Madison Bumgarner's 12-strikeout gem in Tuesday night's 6-3 win. "I know when I haven't given up a hit, I'm always conscious of it," Cain said. "Probably the first time through the lineup I felt like I had good stuff. The first time through the lineup I felt like something could happen." Something special, all right. It was the first no-hitter by San Francisco since departed left-hander Jonathan Sanchez did it July 10, 2009, against the Padres at AT&T Park. The Astros were no-hit by the Giants for the second time. Marichal did it on June 15, 1963. Even Cain thought Snyder had enough to clear the fences in the sixth. That's when the Astros realized it might be a long night. "When the ball I hit doesn't go out and the ball that Schafer hits is caught ... I've never seen a ball hit like that into that gap," Snyder said. Blanco said of his catch: "I didn't think I was going to make it, but I did," Ted Barrett became the first umpire to work behind the plate for two perfect games. He also worked David Cone's 1999 perfecto at Yankee Stadium. "He could put the ball anywhere he wanted," Barrett said. "He knew where he wanted to throw it, and he threw it there. Cone had the big, big backdoor breaking ball. It was against the Expos and I don't think they had faced him before. They were a little bit baffled by Cone's stuff." Cain pivoted on the mound to watch third baseman Joaquin Arias make a long throw for the final out, then the celebration began. First baseman Brandon Belt caught the last throw, tucked the ball in his back pocket for safekeeping and rushed to the mound. Catcher Buster Posey ran out to Cain, who raised his arm. His teammates jumped the dugout rail as the final out was made, a moment reminiscent of that improbable World Series championship in 2010 at Texas. "I can't thank Buster enough," Cain said. "I didn't even question once what he was calling." Cain's wife, Chelsea, fought tears when shown in the stands as the celebration began, then made her way to the dugout for a congratulatory hug and kiss. Cain had come close already this season -- not once, but twice. In his second start of the year, in the team's home opener April 13, he one-hit the Pirates in a 5-0 win, then allowed only two hits over nine innings in the Giants' 11-inning, 1-0 win over Cliff Lee and the Phillies. "I've had some opportunities in the past. There's really nothing like it," Cain said. Cabrera, Belt and Blanco each hit two-run homers and the Giants produced an offensive outburst rarely seen at home this season and rarely seen when Cain has pitched. On this night, he threw nine of his initial 11 pitches for strikes, commanding his repertoire with a dazzling fastball. Cain, who hit one drive into McCovey Cove alongside U.S. Open golfer Dustin Johnson before the game to show off one of his other favorite pastimes, sat by himself in the dugout between innings. J.A. Happ (4-7) lost his fourth straight start after giving up eight runs and 11 hits in 3 1-3 innings. NOTES: Blanco called it the best catch of his career. "I still don't know how he caught that ball," Bochy said. ... Cabrera's first-inning homer marked his first clout at home this year. ... Astros bench coach Joe Pettini will join Tony La Russa's NL All-Star coaching staff. ... Of the 22 perfect games, half have come in the last 24 years. Roy Halladay and Dallas Braden each threw one two seasons ago. ... Castro, who grew up near San Francisco and went to Stanford, had caused Cain problems in the past. Castro hit his first major league homer off Cain in 2010.

Williams: 'We were getting embarrassed out there'

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Williams: 'We were getting embarrassed out there'

If the Capitals hope to get past the Pittsburgh Penguins and make it to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era they’re going to need to start possessing the puck a lot more than they have in the first two games of their second-round playoff series.

“Call it what it was,” Capitals right wing Justin Williams said of the Caps’ 2-1 loss to the Penguins in Game 2 Saturday night at Verizon Center. “The first two periods the ice was tilted a little bit, no doubt. Good for them. They came in desperately and we didn’t answer until the third and it turned out to be too late.”

The Penguins outshot the Capitals 28-10 in the opening 40 minutes of Game 2 but held only a 1-0 lead thanks to the goaltending of Braden Holtby. The Caps turned the tables in the third period by owning a 14-7 shot advantage, but after Marcus Johansson tied the score on a power-play goal, Pittsburgh’s Eric Fehr won it with 4:28 to play.

“That was a huge goal,” Fehr said. “We weren’t happy letting them back in it with their power-play goal. We were just able to fight back and get the lead back. It’s difficult against a team like that. They had a lot of momentum in the third, and you could tell they were kind of feeding off the crowd and (Pens goalie Matt) Murray made some huge saves for us and gave a chance to get back in it.”

Williams said the Caps needed to give themselves a pep talk after the first two periods. They’ve been outshot 80-59 in the first two games of the series.

“We talked between the second and third, knowing we were getting embarrassed out there,” Williams said.

Williams drew the interference penalty that led to Johansson’s game-tying goal 4:08 into the final period, but the Caps’ second line has been silent the entire post-season with zero goals at even strength.

“We certainly recognize it and know we need to be better for us to win and advance,” Williams said.

The Capitals also gave the Penguins 10 minutes of power-play time with minor penalties to Brooks Orpik (interference), Taylor Chorney (roughing), Evgeny Kuznetsov (goaltender interference) and a too-many-men infraction.

“You’re leaving a lot of pretty talented players on the bench when you’re killing a bunch of penalties,” Caps coach Barery Trotz said. “First two periods, I thought they were way better than us.”

The Caps are a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill this series and have killed off 30 of 31 shorthanded situations in the playoffs.

“Great again, guys have been doing a great job,” said Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 33 of 35 shots. “Obviously, everyone knows they’re pretty good on the power play. Hopefully, it isn’t called that way again but we battled through it.”

For as much as the Penguins dominated play, the Caps had a chance to go ahead with just under 6 minutes to play when Mike Richards sent an open shot from the slot wide left.  

“I thought we all thought we were going to win when Richie had that point-blank chance that just rolls off the stick,” Caps defenseman Karl Alzner said.

If so, it might have been fool’s gold because the Penguins have played better hockey for longer stretches of the first two games of the series.

“To be honest, we gave the puck away to them and that can’t happen,” said Nicklas Backstrom, who rebounded from a tough Game 1 by winning 18 of his 20 faceoffs, most of them against Sidney Crosby (1-for-14).

“We make lots of turnovers, make bad decisions,” Ovechkin said. “We didn’t have any traffic in front of the net. We have to find a different way to take the puck to the net.”

They’ll get that chance Monday night in Pittsburgh.

Caps' defensive depth will be put to the test with possible Orpik suspension

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Caps' defensive depth will be put to the test with possible Orpik suspension

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Taylor Chorney played in place of Dmitry Orlov in Game 2 on Saturday night and he may be thrust into action again for Game 3 if Brooks Orpik is suspended by the NHL for his hit to defenseman Olli Maatta.

In the first period, Maatta took the puck in the offensive zone and shot on Holtby from the face off circle. As he began turning he received a high hit from Orpik and sent him to the ice. The play came several seconds after Maatta had already released the puck.

You can watch the play here.

Maatta had to be helped off the ice and did not return. Orpik was assessed a two-minute minor for interference. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was very critical of the hit following the game.

"I thought it was a late hit," Sullivan said. "I thought it was a target to his head. I think it's the type of hit everyone in hockey is trying to remove from the game."

RELATED: Orpik may face discipline after Game 2 hit

Barry Trotz said he talked to Orpik about the hit who explained to him that he thought the rebound from Maatta's original shot was going back to Maatta which is why he chose to follow through on the hit. The Caps' coach defended Orpik, but said they would respect the league's decision if there was any supplemental disciline.

"We'll let the league handle it," Trotz said. "If you know anything about Brooks, he plays had, he plays clean. He's not a dirty player."

If a suspension is forthcoming, Trotz will again have to dip into his team's defensive depth.

After a miscue by Orlov in Game 1 led to a Penguins' goal, Trotz benched Orlov for much of the third period and then elected to dress Chorney for Game 2.

As a former Penguin, Chorney brought experience to the lineup as he suited up against his former teammates. He made one of the defensive plays of the game as he was able to catch Bryan Rust on a breakaway and sweep away the puck without taking a penalty.

Overall, Chorney said he was satisfied with his performance on Saturday.

"It felt good. It's fun to get in there and play in an environment like that, playing at home against a real good team like Pittsburgh. ... It's good experience to get out there and compete against those guys. It would have been nice to get a better result, but overall I think it went pretty well."

Heading into the playoffs, defensive depth was considered a strength for the Caps as the team carried eight blueliners on the roster. Having bodies you can plug into the lineup is one thing, but defensive depth doesn't mean much if the coach doesn't trust the players on the bottom of the depth chart.

Through the first period, Chorney had only 2:44 of ice time while his partner, Nate Schmidt, had 2:28. Matt Niskanen, by comparison, had 9:25. Chorney finished the game with 10:50 of ice time total.

Trotz praised Chorney's play after the game saying but the lack of playing time for the third pairing seems to suggest the Caps coach may not have much faith in his third defensive pairing.

That's not a knock on Chorney specifically as both Schmidt and Orlov have spent some extended time on the bench during games this postseason. Now with Orpik's status in doubt, there's a good chance we could see both Chorney and Orlov in the lineup for Game 3.

Losing Orpik is a prospect the Caps have grown used to this season as the veteran blueliner missed 41 games in the regular season. He also missed the final three games of the series against Philadelphia with an upper-body injury.

The stakes, however, have never been as high as they are now. The opponent has never been as tough.

Trotz has clearly given his third defensive pairing protected minutes throughout the playoffs and has been able to do so thanks to a solid top four and an opponent in Philadelphia that is lacking in offensive skill. A possible suspension to Orpik with the series tied 1-1 heading into Pittsburgh, however, will put the Caps' defensive depth to the ultimate test.

MORE CAPITALS: Former Capital sinks Washington in Game 2

A Meme is Born -- Marcus Johansson and 'Dearest Abigail'

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A Meme is Born -- Marcus Johansson and 'Dearest Abigail'

Watch CSN's segment about 'Dearest Abigail' on #CapitalsTalk in the video player above, which will begin momentarily.

Marcus Johansson showed up to Verizon Center for Game 2 between the Capitals and Penguins wearing what looked like a coat fit for a Civil War general. So CSN's Capitals account took it from there, playing off of a long-standing meme featuring Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. 

Thus was created General Marcus Johansson and "Dearest Abigail".

To begin the game:

We got an assist from the folks at Capitals Hill: 

After the first period:

After the Capitals' disallowed goal: 

After Johansson's goal to tie the game, 1-1: 

After Eric Fehr's goal lifted Pittsburgh to a 2-1 win: 

Others chimed in throughout:

Rest assured, Capitals fans. General Johansson will be back for Game 3.