Matt Cain was outstanding this afternoon in San Francisco, keeping the defending champs off the board for seven innings. He only allowed two hits, seeming to prefer to walk (3) or plunk (2) guys rather than make a mistake over the plate. Matt consistently got the big outs--Chase Utley in the 3rd with two on and two out, Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez in the 4th with two on, Utley again in the 5th with Shane Victorino at 2nd and two outs, and Victorino himself with two on and two out in the 7th. The last encounter was particularly dramatic as Bruce Bochy had jogged out for a visit after the walk to pinch-hitter Gload. Cain said Ol' Boch asked how he was doing and he replied "I'm good." Ol' Boch jogged back and Victorino grounded harmlessly to Freddy Sanchez. It was a dominating performance, particularly against that lineup. Cain worked hard as it took 119 pitches to get those 21 outs. I was really impressed by his confidence and concentration. He seemed to be able to make the pitches he wanted to all day long, regardless of the count and situation, and the Phillie hitters never got anything going. Rollins was caught on the Fox broadcast's 'Sounds of the Game' talking to the 1st base coach about the deceptive movement in Cain's fastball, saying that even though it was "right over the plate" he couldn't pick it up. Bobby Valentine (on ESPN) was raving about Cain's change-up, saying he thinks it's a new pitch he developed late in the season. Whatever it was, it was part of a devastating repertoire that kept the hitters off balance. Matt got the first batter of every inning he pitched: Victorino, Howard, Ibanez, Polanco, Ruiz, Polanco, Rollins.
Cole Hamels was perfect through three innings, but Edgar Renteria, leading off in a juggled lineup, singled to open the 4th and came home on a two-out single by none other than Mr. Mid-October Cody Ross. Aubrey Huff followed that with a single to right that beat the shift and Utley's reach. Utley allowed another run on a ball hit by Freddy Sanchez in the 5th that came up short on him. It drove in Aaron Rowand, subbing in center for the struggling Andres Torres, who'd led off with a double. The bench guys came through big time against the very tough Hamels. You have to hand it to Ol' Boch, he pulled the right strings today.
Javier Lopez pitched an overpowering 8th, obliterating Utley, Polanco, and Howard on only nine pitches. Brian Wilson got a double-play grounder to seal the deal in the 9th and put the Giants up two games to one. A tremendous start by Matt Cain, a gritty effort by the batsmen, and a clean slate for the fielders added up to a huge, huge win.
Let's keep it rolling! GO GIANTS!!