Cain is Able: Matt Cain shuts down Phillies to win NLCS Game Three
Expert after expert picked Phillies ace Cole Hamels to master the San Francisco Giants while giving faint praise to Giants starter Matt Cain in game three of the NLCS at AT&T Park this afternoon. It seems that no matter what the Giants do to win they can get no respect from the baseball media establishment. First it was that they would finish no better than 4th or if they were lucky 3rd in the NL West. Then while some predicted them to defeat the Braves in 4 or 5 games is was almost a derisive pick figuring that even if the Giants got by the Braves that they would be no match for the mighty Phillies. Well that sports fans changed today as the great hope of the established sports media Cole Hamels and the vaunted Phillies lineup fell to the underdog, no name San Francisco Giants in a three hit shutout.
Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross celebrate in the 4th inning. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
The heroes for the Giants were predicable first there was Matt Cain who was given faint praise before the game by every commentator that I listened to. Cain pitched 7 innings giving up just 2 hits and no runs pitching out of a couple of tight jams that might have sent another pitcher scurrying for cover. When Cain was done Javier Lopez and Brian “Fear the Beard” Wilson came in to shut down the Phillies. On the offensive side of the house it was Hamels’ nemesis Cody Ross who with two outs in the bottom of the 4th inning singled to drive in Edgar Renteria. Ross was followed by Aubrey Huff who also had an RBI single to give the Giants a 2-0 lead against a pitcher that the experts said would shut them down. The Giants got another run in the bottom of the 5th inning when Aaron Rowland doubled and then scored from second with two outs on a fielding error by Chase Utley.
Brain Wilson gets his 4th save of the post season (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
After that it was the Giants pitching, Cain, Lopez and Wilson that shut the Phillies down. The middle of the Phillies order had 2 hits a single by Ryan Howard and another by Jimmy Rollins. The Giants staff struck out 7 Phillies and walked three with Cain hitting two batters. Hamels gave up just 5 hits but surrendered runs with 2 outs in the 4th and 5th innings.
The Giants now have a 2-1 series lead with rookie Madison Bumgarner facing Joe Blanton in game four of the series Wednesday night. Blanton has not pitched since September having been left off the NLDS roster by Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel. There is talk that Manuel may move Roy Halladay up in the rotation on short rest but as of this moment Blanton is the scheduled starter for the Phillies. The Giants now have a psychological advantage over the Phillies as they know that they can beat Halladay who has not beaten the Giants this season and has a career worst record against them as opposed to any other team. If the Giants win tomorrow over Blanton then it will come down to a duel between Halladay and Tim Lincecum who has proven that he can handle the Phillies.
Matt Cain has to be feeling good as in 14 innings of playoff baseball this year he has yet to allow an earned run. The Giants have made this series very interesting and I expect them to continue to surprise the Phillies and the baseball media establishment in the days ahead. I predicted this series to go to seven with the Giants taking it but I could be wrong, it might go just 5 or 6 games.