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Game 3 NLCS, Cards 3, Giants 1: Here Come The Squirrels

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So it comes down to this: The Giants must lean on their two squirreliest pitchers to guide the series back to San Francisco. Tim Lincecum is pitching Thursday, and Barry Zito takes the hill Friday.

In another year, you would have been all, "Cool!" and "Huh? What's he doing on the roster?" respectively. But now, Lincecum's stellar playoff bullpen work notwithstanding, we're pretty much in the same place with both of them. Or at least within the same general circumference of apprehension: Please oh please. Let Good [Timmy/Barry] show up.

It's the moment you've all been waiting for, and it's mainly due to the performance Wednesday evening of Hunter Pence. I generally shy away from putting too much blame on one guy. Team game, and all that. But his two plate appearances with two men on, in the third and the seventh, were ugly, brutal, and inevitable. The nerd stats back up the eyeballs, too: Pence had the worst Win Probability Added (WPA) of the game -- it's the measure of a player's effect on the outcome. It wasn't close. What's more, he had terrible at-bats. In the third, he wisely laid off two sliders to gain count leverage, but then swung at a 2-0 slider that seemed a bit of a hanger and grounded it routinely to short for a rally-killing double play. In the seventh, he swung right through two hanging sliders, took a couple pitches, then swung at a nasty slider that had him dropping to a knee.

Basically, that's all you need to know about Game 3. Matt Cain caught a little too much of the inside half of the plate with a slider that Matt Carpenter deposited in the bleachers; Hunter Pence swung at hittable sliders and made inappropriate contact, if any at all. Bruce Bochy says he might make lineup changes for Game 4.

I'm sure there are stats out there to show how often a team falls behind 2-1 and wins a best-of-seven. I'll guess that it's less than 50% of the time. But after The Rally in Cincinnati -- The Oh-My-Oh By the Ohio! -- I'm feeling eerily calm. Well, except for that Lincecum/Zito thing in the next couple games. This is the year of tearing up the script and winging it with a pair of tap shoes, an umbrella and a rubber chicken. Horrible, frightening things might await the Giants in the next 72 hours, but there's a great chance they won't be the things we're all most afraid of. So why worry?


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