2010 SF Giants – Matt Cain Loves Two-out Magic

2010 SF Giants

The 9-0 score isn’t really indicative of what most of game two of the World Series was about.

If you missed the game and only saw the score, you probably wouldn’t know that CJ Wilson and Matt Cain were dueling in a game that looked like it was going to be a World Series classic.

At the time Wilson left the game because of a blister on his finger in the bottom of the 7th, his Rangers were only down 1-0. And that run came from a solo HR off the bat of Babe Renteria. Edgar Renteria had just three home runs during the season. The only one Giants fans probably remember was during their home opener in April when he took Billy Wagner deep to tie a game the Giants would go on to win.

It was a majestic shot that sailed through the air and into the dark blue sky in left field. I was yelling at the television, hoping my voice would keep it fair. And then I thought… Edgar Renteria? This is the same Edgar Renteria who is supposedly playing with a torn tendon in his biceps. This is the same Edgar Renteria who is playing because Pablo Sandoval wasn’t able to cut it offensively or defensively in the playoffs.

But this is also the same Edgar Renteria who has been to the playoffs seven times in fourteen years. He’s the same Edgar Renteria who is playing in his third World Series. And he’s the same Edgar Renteria who had the game winning hit to win the World Series in 1997.

Renteria also hit a single that knocked in two runs in the 8th inning, one in which the Giants scored seven runs thanks to a Rangers’ bullpen that walked four in the inning, including two that forced in runs.

What I hope doesn’t get lost in the rout is how truly great Matt Cain pitched. Cain has always been a tough luck pitcher throughout his career. Even this year, the Giants didn’t really score all that many runs for him. Lately, the rap on Cain is that while his ERA is good, the deeper statistics show him as more lucky than good.

Cain may not have that one dominant out pitch and he may not have overpowering stuff, but he knows how to pitch. On this night, he used his ballpark to his advantage. Cain got the Rangers to pop-up, fly-out, or line-out thirteen times to take advantage of his spacious ballpark at AT&T.

He smartly used the outside corner to his advantage against a Rangers team which looked to be pressing a bit. You could see it in the follow through on their swings. Cain would get someone to pop the ball up and immediately, they would show their frustration by shrugging their shoulders. And it wasn’t just one hitter. Josh Hamilton did it and Ian Kinsler did it. It was clear that his style was in their heads.

Wilson actually had the better stuff on this night. He had a sweeping curveball that caused so many check swings. In the fourth inning, he had Buster Posey unsure if he checked his swing or didn’t on a third strike in the dirt, and he just threw his hands up as if to say that he had no idea what just happened.

If Wilson would’ve been able to continue, the game ends up much closer. He’d actually given up less hits than Cain for the game. But when he turned it over to the Texas bullpen, the game quickly changed.

In the 7th, Cody Ross worked a walk off Wilson and the ball four ended up being Wilson’s last pitch. Juan Uribe singled off Darren Oliver to drive Ross in to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.

For Rangers’ fans, the 8th inning may have been their worst moment of the entire season. Darren O’Day started off the 8th with two strikeouts. Buster Posey started a two-out rally with bloop hit to center field. And then the wheels fell off.

Manager Ron Washington avoided bringing in closer Neftali Feliz and instead brought in Derek Holland (three batters, three walks), Mark Lowe (two batters, one walk, one hit), and Michael Kirkman (three batters, two hits). After it was all said and done, the Giants would score seven runs in the inning and all with two outs.

The Giants are halfway to their first World Series title in San Francisco. But the last half is the hardest.

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