NEW YORK — Gregor Blanco will always be known for his contribution to Matt Cain’s perfect game, a stunning diving catch that preserved the historic feat. Blanco was supposed to be in right field Tuesday and would have been on the field for Chris Heston’s no-hitter, but the Giants sent their fourth outfielder for additional tests because of fears he may have a concussion.
Blanco was hit by a warm-up throw over the weekend in Philadelphia and was scratched from the lineup minutes before Tuesday’s first pitch. It wasn’t until batting practice that Justin Maxwell found out he would be the right fielder, and Maxwell ended up making a catch in Heston’s no-hit effort. Maxwell said this was just his second no-hitter as a big leaguer; he was in the visiting dugout when Blanco helped Cain go 27 up, 27 down against the Astros in 2012.
“I was not used,” said a smiling Maxwell, who stayed on the bench that night. “Therefore I wasn’t a part of that.”
Maxwell almost wasn’t an active part of Heston’s no-hitter. The right-hander got 14 outs on the ground and 11 on strikeouts, so Maxwell touched the ball just once, on a fly ball to right that ended the seventh. The only other ball to leave the infield was a shallow pop-up to left that Nori Aoki chased down in the second.
“It was pretty special,” Maxwell said. “Nobody really squared a ball up.”
Despite the light load, Maxwell was ready for his moment if it came. Cain’s perfect game was saved by his right fielder and Hunter Pence was the defensive star in Tim Lincecum’s first no-hitter.
“I was thinking that I had to be ready to make a play after the seventh inning,” Maxwell said. “You make sure you’re prepared on every pitch.”
You also have to make sure you know the rules of a no-hitter, and Maxwell said he kept with tradition when he saw Heston nearby in the dugout.
“Yeah, I made no eye contact,” he said.