Major League career
Cain made his major league debut on August 29, 2005 at the age of 20 against the Colorado Rockies, losing the game despite giving up only three hits and two runs in five innings. Following his debut, Cain joined the team's regular five-man starting rotation, finding immediate success. He earned his first major league win on September 4 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and notched his first complete game, a two-hitter, against the Chicago Cubs on September 9. Cain finished his first season with seven starts over 46⅓ innings in which he posted a 2–1 record, 30 strikeouts, a 2.33 ERA, a 0.928 WHIP, and a minuscule .151 opponent batting average.
In 2006, Cain struggled with inconsistency, but showed signs of dominance in several starts, flirting with a no-hitter on more than one occasion. On April 24, 2006, Cain pitched six innings without allowing a base runner against the New York Mets, one of the league's most prolific offenses. On May 21, Cain pitched his first complete game shutout, a one-hitter against the Oakland Athletics. On June 19, Cain pitched 7⅔ innings of no-hit ball against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before finally surrendering a single to Chone Figgins in the eighth inning.
Late in the season Cain increased his chances for Rookie of the Year consideration with a run of remarkable pitching. From August 12 to September 14 Cain recorded a 5–0 record with an almost unheard-of ERA of 0.21. During this streak, he allowed just one earned run in 42 innings—and did not allow an earned run in 30⅔ innings. He led all National League rookie pitchers with 13 wins and 179 strikeouts in 2006. His 2006 record was 13–12, with a 4.15 ERA. Cain finished in a fifth-place tie in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
He started the 2007 season with a 1.55 ERA with 11 hits in 29 innings pitched. This run was capped on April 22, in which he pitched a complete game allowing only one run (in the ninth) and just three hits. It was the third complete game of his young career. Cain's record through August 3 was 3–12. He had limited opponents to a batting average of .238 against him during that stretch. The Giants scored two or fewer runs in 20 of Cain's first 30 starts. Additionally, the bullpen blew four leads behind him.
Cain went 4–1 over his next five starts. This stretch was bolstered in part by a power surge at the plate by Cain himself. He hit his first and second career home runs in these starts, off Tim Redding of the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano.
Cain finished the season with 10th lowest ERA in the National League at 3.65. The Giants went 9–23 in his starts; the bullpen lost leads in five of his starts and the team scored 2 runs or fewer in 21 of his starts.
Cain went 8-14 with a 3.76 ERA, 186 strikeouts and 217.2 innings. Cain's season record was deceiving, as he again received low run support. As in 2007, Cain hit two home runs for the season, the third and fourth of his career.
So far through 2009, Cain has had his best year in his career. Cain is 13-4 with a 2.51 ERA with 146 strikeouts. Through September 7, his ERA ranks third in the NL, and fourth in major league baseball. He was tied for seventh in the NL lead in wins (13), and third in winning percentage (.765).
On July 5, 2009 Cain was announced as an All Star for the first time in his young career. On Matt Cain's final start before the All Star Game, he was hit by a line drive right below his elbow and was forced to miss pitching for the All Star Team, although he did still attend and was announced as an All Star. Pirates pitcher Zach Duke replaced Cain on the NL All Star team.
On September 25th Matt Cain was awarded the Willie Mac Award presented yearly to a Giants player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership consistently shown by Willie McCovey throughout his long career, is voted upon by the players and coaching staff.
- Matt Cain Player File. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2007-09-05.
- 2005 Top 100 Prospects. Baseball America. Retrieved on 2007-09-05.
- Matt Cain Statistics. Baseball-Reference. Retrieved on 2007-10-03.
- Matt Cain Stats. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2007-10-03.
- Haft, Chris (2007-09-16). One hit too much for unlucky Cain. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2007-09-16.
- Haft, Chris (2007-08-04). Cain snakebitten against Padres. MLB.com. Retrieved on 2007-08-28.
- Matt Cain 2007 Pitching Gamelogs. Baseball-Reference. Retrieved on 2007-08-30.
- Matt Cain Home Run Log (Batting). Baseball-Reference. Retrieved on 2007-08-30.
- Shea, John. "Another crusher for Cain", San Francisco Chronicle, 2008-04-13. Retrieved on 2008-04-13.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
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