Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yes We Cain

What's up with those San Francisco Giants? Nothing. Zero.

Zero is the number of runs that pitcher Matt Cain has given up in the post-season. In the second game of the World Series he pitched brilliantly--with great stuff, but also the fortitude to get out of jams-- and left the game after 7 and 2/3 innings with the Gianst ahead 2-0.

That was enough to win the game. In fact, the solo home run hit by the Giant's #8 hitter (the magnificent veteran Edgar Renteria) was enough to win this game. A team scoring nothing in the World Series is a rarity, but it's even more astounding because Texas has come up with a gameful of zeros only five times all season.

Then in the Giants' eighth inning, the Rangers' bullpen completely imploded, walking in three runs, and allowing several hits, all with two outs in the eighth. The Giants won 9-0.

So now the Giants have won two games, and the Rangers zero. Nothing.

The Series goes to Texas for three games starting Saturday, and of course nobody knows what will happen. Will the home stadium settle their young bullpen, will their big hitters start getting big hits? The Phillies waited for that to happen, and it didn't happen. But one possibility has been erased: the Rangers won't sweep. They must win 4 of the next 5 games.

The Giants scored 11 runs in the first game, 9 in the second, both after dodging early game problems and doing most of the damage in a single late inning. None of that is actually characteristic of their season. Their winning formula is to get a couple of runs early while their pitchers hold the other team in check, and bend but not break in the late innings. The Rangers must be really confused.

If the Giants win the third game, the series is just about over. Confidence is a big part of baseball. Right now the Rangers look befuddled. If they can't channel the energy of the home crowd into effective confidence in their first game there, they're probably done. They will have left their heart in San Francisco.

On the Steelers...

The Pittsburgh Steelers' premier defensive end is out (for the season) and their other starting d.e. may not play Sunday. It's going to be very hard to stop New Orleans on a mission, primarily through the air. And if the Saints get one of their runners back, and Steelers run defense weakens to contain the pass, there could be more trouble.

On the other hand, Aaron Smith's replacement is Ziggy Hood, their #1 draft choice from last year, and this kind of a game is when stars are made. He'll probably have to be one, and the Steelers will have to do a lot of good things offensively as well as defensively.

They're capable of it, and on paper they should win this game. But it's hard to conceive of the defending champion New Orleans Saints losing at home on Halloween, which is New Orleans' signature day. My heart is with the Steelers as always, but I'm still the Big Uneasy about this game.

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