Before we get into Game 4, I've got something to show you.
If you're not sure what that is or who wrote it, go get yourself some Google, feel the foam forming in your mouth, and come on back.
Now, Game 4.
Tim Lincecum was dominant, Barry Zito wasn't, the Giants' bats came alive, and Bruce Bochy rediscovered his halo from October 2010, although his best move was only his to claim thanks to some fast Plan B thinking... or was it?
Let's start with Bochy. From the moment Cain came out of Game 1 with only 75 pitches dispensed, I assumed he would return for Game 4 if the Giants were facing elimination. But Bochy & Co. figured all along, I'll betcha, that Lincecum would be and could be Zito's shadow, especially after Timmy acquitted himself well in the two-inning audition Sunday. Everyone moaned about Bochy using him in a non-critical scenario, but I think his work Sunday was the toe in the water that set up Wednesday's perfect-ten dive into the deep end -- 4 1/3 innings, 1 run, no walks, six Ks, 55 pitches and 42 of them strikes. It was without a doubt the best stuff he's had all year, never mind the velocity.
Barry Zito was both awful and cursed with an unforgiving umpire and a catcher whose twitchy glove was about as valuable a frame for Zito's big curveball as a few strips of plywood are for a Vermeer. After Zito walked three straight to force in a run in the first inning, Bochy might have been wondering what the holy heck he was thinking. But he didn't compound the mistake by letting Zito stay in to save face or earn a win or other nonsense. His quick hook saved the day and was a sharp contrast to Dusty Baker, who hoped to squeeze more innings from Mike Leake, meatball vendor, and got burned by the Giants' two-run fifth. Then again, Dusty was managing for one win in two games; Bochy had no such luxury.
I loved the maneuvering once he pulled Zito, too. Everything worked, in particular the double-switch to get Joaquin Arias in the game and rotate Lincecum to the end of the lineup. Not only did it shelve for a couple innings the need even to contemplate a Lincecum at-bat, just as if Timmy were the starting pitcher, very clever, but it unsheathed the mighty sword of Arias. Snicker-snack, the doubles flew! He started two huge rallies from his weaker platoon situation (righty vs righty).
Even the Sanchez start, though in my opinion it led more quickly to Zito's downfall, paid off when Hector singled and (gasp) walked twice.
So even though Bochy could easily have been down 5-1 after an inning thanks to Zito's wildness, the Zito/Cain controversy has so far paid off. His team muddled through the early innings, and while watching Zito I nearly heave-ho'd my soggy chicken club sandwich. Bochy was decisive in the third, and the Giants pulled away in the middle. And whaddya know, it's Matt Cain on four days' rest. Funny how that worked out. No, I mean it. And funny like weird, not ha-ha. Please Mr. Bochy, don't do that to us again.
In 2010, the only potentially clinching game Matt Cain pitched was the Friday night of the final weekend against the Padres. He didn't pitch particularly well. In 2010, the Giants faced Mat Latos on the last day of the regular season. He pitched well but got triple-dirtied. And dirty-tripled. Yay, Matt. Boo, Mat. I've got nothing left.