Sometime last year I called Matt Cain the pitching equivalent of Xanax, because his presence makes Giants fans feel so relaxed. Everything’s going to be okay, Cain’s not going to let everything turn into an awful wildfire of pain and stress (I made that comparison in one of my many posts defending Jonathan Sanchez, the polar opposite of Cain).

Cain isn’t Xanax anymore. He isn’t the Giants’ rock either, the steady guy they can depend on. That’s boring. Cain’s the leader of the staff. Tim Lincecum has the Cy Young Awards and the hair — but in 2012, Cain’s the Giants’ ace.

18 innings pitched over the last six days. 3 hits allowed, no runs. Cain almost threw a perfect game on Friday, and he may have been even better on Wednesday night. He thought so, anyway.

“I felt like I did have a little bit maybe better stuff today. I felt like I was throwing to both sides of the plate a lot better. The other day I was fighting it a little bit early but today I felt like, coming out of the gate, I found it quick,” said Cain, whose WHIP is 0.50 through 24 innings. How many 1-2-3 innings is that this year? A hundred. Don’t argue with math.

Thanks to a leadoff broken-bat single in the 11th by Brandon Belt, an error by Ty Wigginton (the Phillies’ Keppingerian third baseman), and another single by the guy the Giants got for Sanchez, Melky Cabrera, Cain’s second consecutive near-perfect outing wasn’t wasted. Thank goodness, because it was a cryin’ shame when Cain was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th inning after 91 pitches, even though it was clearly the right move.

Lee threw 102 pitches over 10 innings, but at least he gave the Giants a few chances to ground into double plays (4!). Cain wasn’t having any of that — he only let one Phillie reach second (after a sacrifice bunt) and retired the last 13 guys he faced.

Everyone knows you can’t play the “what if” game in sports, because a butterfly flapping its wings in Italy means your delivery guy’s going to be late with your pizza a couple hours later. Still, it would’ve been nice to see Cain get the chance to head back out there for the 10th and battle Lee into perpetuity. The way this game went, taking roughly an hour to get through the first 10 innings, it seemed like Cain and Lee could’ve pitched forever. In the memories of all who watched this game, they will.

Videos, videos, videos 

– Here’s Matt Cain talking about Matt Cain. Since Matt Cain deserves as much attention as Matt Cain can possibly garner, I present this video of Matt Cain’s postgame interview in its entirety. His description of the game: “It was fast.”

 

 

– Melky’s new to this whole Giants/Phillies thing, but he must’ve done his homework. The Giants’ rotation doesn’t exactly take kindly to people placing them slightly below the Phillies’ staff. When Cabrera was asked about Cliff Lee, he made sure to mention Matt Cain (interviewed with the help of a translator).

 

 

Melky was the only player in this game to collect more than 1 hit. He had 3.

 

– Javier Lopez came in to face Jim Thome in the 11th with Carlos Ruiz on third with one out. In an at-bat that should silence the doubters (many believe the Giants overpaid for Lopez, although Brian Sabean alluded to the fact that Brian Wilson was a question mark when he talked to us bloggers on Media Day, which is why they aggressively went after Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt), Lopez struck out Thome. He talks about the battle here, as well as the last time he faced Thome, back in 2007.

 

 

– One last thing … we have an addition to our running tally this season. The Giants played error-free baseball (pretty helpful in a scoreless extra innings game). That brings our totals to:

Error-free games: 4

3-error games: 4