An odd vibe always follows a pitcher to the mound in his first start after a no-hitter. He gets a load of extra attention. Though well-deserved, it heightens the drama as if people expect him to do it again.
Matt Cain will experience that in Anaheim on Monday night, his first start after Wednesday's perfect game, and he has a lot more to worry about than raised expectations.
He has to solve talented rookie leadoff hitter Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, who crushed Cain through the years as a St. Louis Cardinal. Pujols is 8-for-14 with a double, two homers, four walks and five RBIs against him.
When Pujols was struggling to reach the Mendoza line in April and went homerless until May 6, you can bet Cain was thinking, "Yeah, like that's going to last."
"I definitely didn't think he was going to stay below .200. I don't even think that's possible for him," Cain said. "He's too good an athlete, too good a guy to sit there for long. You knew he was going to find a way to change things and figure things out to get out of his slumber."
Matt Cain less than perfect against Albert Pujols
San Francisco Chronicle | Jun 17