Matt Cain's Perfect Game Vaults Him into Lead for NL Cy Young Award

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIJune 14, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 13:  Matt Cain #18 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after pitching a perfect game against the Houston Astros at AT&T Park on June 13, 2012 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Houston Astros 10-0. Matt Cain struck out a career-high 14 batters, and pitched a perfect game in what was the first in Giants franchise history. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

June 13, 2012.

It will be a day that goes down in history for the San Francisco Giants and starting pitcher Matt Cain.

That was the day that Cain threw what is sure to be the game of the year against the Houston Astros, going a full nine innings, striking out 14 batters and recording the first perfect game in the 129-year history of the Giants organization.

In the process, he launched himself into the pole position for this year's National League Cy Young Award.

All the talk heading into yesterday was about how R.A. Dickey and Lance Lynn were duking it out atop the National League with nine wins.

While some people on the West Coast and in the Bay Area specifically may have taken notice of Matt Cain's ace-type numbers, it seemed as though he was being overshadowed by the New York Mets knuckleballer and the St. Louis rookie who have come out of absolutely nowhere.

That's fine, though, Matt Cain is used to playing second fiddle.

After all, Matt Cain has been quietly dominating the National League now for a few years in the shadow of staff ace Tim Lincecum (though he's having an off year in just about every possible way).

That's why when the Giants inked the right-hander to a six-year, $127.5 million contract, there were questions as to whether Cain could live up to such a contract.

Fast-forward to present day.

Matt Cain has, once again, quietly put together another All-Star campaign.

He currently sits second in the league in ERA at 2.18 (behind only Brandon Beachy of the Atlanta Braves), first in the NL in WHIP (0.85), first in innings pitched (95.0), tied for fourth in wins (eight) and second in strikeouts with 96 (behind Nationals super-hurler Stephen Strasburg, who has 100).

If those numbers don't convince you that Matt Cain is the best pitcher in the National League, I don't know what will.

Let us not forget that a knuckleball pitcher like R.A. Dickey also relies heavily on factors out of his control (like the weather) and plays in what is probably the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the NL. (Slow pitches combined with faraway fences make R.A. one happy pitcher.)

Last night may have been exactly the kind of coming-out party that was necessary for people to start taking notice of Cain. He is certainly deserving of the recognition as one of the top pitchers in baseball.

In case you missed last night's perfect game, fear not. I have a feeling that it won't be the last time that "Matt Cain" and "perfect game" will be spoken in the same sentence.