The Giants have no shortage of options when it comes to the best individual pitching performances in franchise history. Their rich pitching annals feature 17 no-hitters, iconic duels between Hall of Famers and one of the greatest postseason performances of all time. Narrowing the field down to five outings is no easy task, but we tried anyway.
Here’s a look at five of the Giants' greatest single-game pitching performances.
1. Matt Cain: perfect game on June 13, 2012 (Giants 10, Astros 0)
Cain is quite literally forever Giant, as he’s the only pitcher in the franchise’s 138-year history to attain perfection on the mound. Cain retired all 27 Astros he faced during his milestone performance at AT&T Park, striking out 14 and throwing 125 pitches. The veteran right-hander received an assist from right fielder Gregor Blanco, who made a spectacular diving catch on a drive by Jordan Schafer to keep the perfect game intact in the seventh. Two innings later, pinch-hitter Jason Castro shot a grounder to third base that Joaquín Arias fielded for the final out, cementing Cain’s place in the history books.
“It felt like the World Series,” Cain said afterward. “But it almost felt a little bit louder, a little bit crazier than that. Every strike, they were going nuts for. It was truly amazing. I’ve never had that much excitement in every pitch, every strike, every swing.”
2. Carl Hubbell: 18-inning shutout on July 2, 1933 (New York Giants 1, Cardinals 0)
Hubbell delivered a stunning performance in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cardinals at the Polo Grounds, allowing only six hits, striking out 12 and walking none over 18 scoreless innings. The Hall of Fame left-hander retired the Cards in order in 12 of those innings en route to recording the highest game score (132) by a pitcher in Giants history, according to Baseball Reference.
3. Juan Marichal: 16-inning duel with Warren Spahn on July 2, 1963 (Giants 1, Milwaukee Braves 0)
Marichal authored another performance for the ages in 1963, when he faced off with Spahn in a scoreless pitching duel that finally ended when Willie Mays homered in the bottom of the 16th inning to lift the Giants to victory at Candlestick Park. A 25-year-old Marichal threw 227 pitches, yielding eight hits, four walks and striking out 10. Spahn walked off the mound after throwing 201 pitches and allowed nine hits, one intentional walk and struck out two.
Giants manager Alvin Dark had tried to pull Marichal in the ninth, but the Dominican right-hander refused to depart before his 42-year-old counterpart.
“Alvin, do you see that man pitching on the other side?” Marichal told Dark. “He’s 42 and I’m 25, and you can’t take me out until that man is not pitching.”
4. Gaylord Perry: no-hitter on Sept. 17, 1968 (Giants 1, Cardinals 0)
The Cardinals certainly didn’t make it easy for Perry, who started opposite Hall of Famer Bob Gibson and faced sluggers like Orlando Cepeda, Lou Brock and Roger Maris. But Perry ultimately outdueled Gibson by throwing his first career no-hitter at Candlestick Park. A first-inning home run was all the run support Perry needed, as the right-hander walked two and struck out nine over nine innings in the brilliant outing. Gibson, who won the 1968 National League Cy Young Award, settled in after the early homer, scattering four hits while striking out 10 and walking two over eight innings.
5. Madison Bumgarner: five-inning save on Oct. 29, 2014 (Giants 3, Royals 2)
Game 7 of the 2014 World Series will forever be defined by the epic performance of Bumgarner, who came out of the bullpen to fire five scoreless innings and clinch the Giants’ third title in five years. Bumgarner’s legendary save came on two days’ rest, as he also started and won Game 1 and Game 5, capping one of the most dominant runs by a pitcher in World Series history.
A 25-year-old Bumgarner logged a 0.43 ERA over 21 innings against the Royals, becoming the first Giants pitcher to capture World Series MVP honors.
“Yeah, it was hopeless,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said afterward.