SAN FRANCISCO In the afterglow of Matt Cain's perfect game, it hardly seemed to matter that the Giants dropped a completely forgettable 6-3 contest to the Houston Astros on Thursday.
Who remembers the day after a momentous event, anyway? A single game on a spectacular San Francisco afternoon was just a footnote as the reality of Cain's first-ever achievement for a Giants pitcher sank in even for Cain.
"I'm still pumped," Cain told the Associated Press after playing catch with Madison Bumgarner following a Thursday morning workout. "I haven't really had a ton of time to sit down and look over stuff, see how it all happened. I don't know that it has hit me yet maybe when I can sit down and watch the highlights, go over the game."
When Cain became only the 22nd pitcher in the major leagues to throw a perfect game Wednesday, it was by my count the 20,009th official game for a Giants franchise formed as the New York Gothams in 1883.
Christy Mathewson, Carl Hubbell, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry all Hall of Fame pitchers for the Giants never retired all 27 batters in a game without giving up a walk, excuse-me hit or enduring an error.
Cain stands alone in Giants history amassed over 130 seasons and the span of 23 U.S. presidencies from Chester A. Arthur to Barack H. Obama.
As a result, Cain will be embraced by Giants' fans forever.
There are baseball achievements more rare Cy Young's 511 career victories, Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak but not many.
At 27, Cain joins baseball immortals such as Young and Sandy Koufax in retiring the minimum 27 batters in one game. Cain tied Koufax for the most strikeouts in a perfect game with 14, and he threw the most pitches in a perfect game with 125.
How rare are perfect games? In the National League, there were two recorded in 1880, and not another for 84 years until Jim Bunning threw one for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1964.
There were no perfect games in baseball in the 1930s, '40s or '70s. There were three in the 1980s, four in the '90s, two in the first decade of the 21st century and now two each in 2010 and 2012.
But for a fluke hit by the opposing pitcher on Opening Day this season, Cain might now be the only pitcher in history with two perfectos. Yet James McDonald of the Pittsburgh Pirates laced an unlikely sixth-inning hit off Cain on April 13.
So much of perfect-game lore is steeped in twists of fate.
Armando Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers was infamously robbed of a perfect game in 2010 when umpire Jim Joyce blew the call on what should have been the final out.
Pedro Martinez pitched a perfect game for nine innings, but the Expos couldn't score a run for him to break a 0-0 tie. The Expos won 1-0 in 10 innings, but the winning pitcher of record was Mel Rojas.
The cruelty of pitchers losing brilliantly added poignancy to Cain's achievement, because since 2005 no big-league pitcher has gotten less run support than Cain. And yet there were the often-anemic Giants scoring 10 runs Wednesday night the most ever scored by a winning team in a perfect game.
So revered by his teammates for his stoicism and grit after so many tough losses because of the lack of run support, Wednesday's climax was justice for one of baseball's good guys.
Cain is a throwback player in that he leads by example. He's pure Southern, working-class American, and he's not arrogant or mean-spirited.
What now for Cain after achieving a line in his record that could one day be etched on his Cooperstown bust or written into his obituary?
He has the arsenal fastball, changeup, slider, and curveball to build a Hall of Fame career. He is the highest-paid right-hander in baseball because he's earned it, and he's unfazed by that massive contract.
After Young, some of the immortals on baseball's all-time wins list are without perfect games: Walter Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Warren Spahn and Roger Clemens.
Yet Mike Witt, Len Barker and Tom Browning also threw perfect games that became the highlights of their careers. Dallas Braden of the A's has been felled by arm injuries, as has Roy Halladay, and Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox is 1-4 since his perfect game in April.
What fate awaits Cain?
I don't know, but I sure wish I had been here to see him achieve a slice of immortality.