Matt Cain’s Place in History

Matt Cain just threw the 22nd perfect game in baseball history, which is of course an amazing accomplishment. But, through the way he dominated on the way to his perfect game, Cain actually joined an even more exclusive club – guys who have posted a Game Score above 100 in a nine inning game.

Before tonight, only nine pitchers had ever racked up a game score of 100 or better in nine innings. It was more common back when starters kept going when a game went to extras, but we want to compare apples to apples, so those are out. Sorted by Game Score — an imperfect measure, for certain, but one that does okay for this purpose — here are the 10 best nine inning performances of all time.

Player Date Tm Opp IP H R BB SO HR GSc
Kerry Wood 5/6/98 CHC HOU 9 1     20   105
Nolan Ryan 5/1/91 TEX TOR 9     2 16   101
Sandy Koufax 9/9/65 LAD CHC 9       14   101
Matt Cain 6/13/12 SF HOU 9       14   101
Brandon Morrow 8/8/10 TOR TBR 9 1   2 17   100
Randy Johnson 5/18/04 ARI ATL 9       13   100
Curt Schilling 4/7/02 ARI MIL 9 1   2 17   100
Nolan Ryan 7/15/73 CAL DET 9     4 17   100
Nolan Ryan 7/9/72 CAL BOS 9 1   1 16   100
Warren Spahn 9/16/60 MLN PHI 9     2 15   100

In terms of raw performance, this matches Sandy Koufax’s perfect game from 1965 as the best perfecto ever, and matches one of Nolan’s Ryan no-hitters where he did most of the work himself. The only nine inning game in history with a higher game score was Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeout one-hitter. It’s pretty amazing that most of us were alive to see both.


Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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11 years ago