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Cain has thrown 1,0491/3 innings since 2006, eighth most in baseball, but looked fresh this postseason, finishing with 72/3 shutout frames in a 9--0 victory in Game 2 against the Rangers. He carved up Texas not only with a fastball in the low 90s and a power curve, the pitches he concentrated on as a minor leaguer, but also with fiendish sliders and changeups, pitches he developed in the majors.
San Francisco is a ball club with a level of weirdness that works well in its home city, be it Wilson with a beard so ridiculously thick and black it seems store-bought, Huff with a lucky red rhinestoned thong he wears underneath his uniform or Ross, who grew up dreaming of becoming a rodeo clown and, at age 29, has bounced around five organizations. But Cain is the Giants' ballast, a man of such a calm comportment that he didn't even bother tipping his cap when the crowd of 43,622 at AT&T Park wildly applauded as he walked off the mound with a 2--0 lead in Game 2.
"Just my way," explains Cain. "I don't know, I felt like my job wasn't all the way done. There was still a guy on and the game wasn't over. It's just me. I don't want to create any riff-raff with the other team."
The 9--0 win—San Francisco erupted for seven runs in the eighth—was the most lopsided shutout in the World Series in 25 years and made the Giants, despite their modest lineup, the first team in the 106 Fall Classics to score 20 runs while winning the first two games.
San Francisco had hammered Lee in Game 1, 11--7. The beneficiary of that unlikely onslaught was Lincecum, who was more hittable than usual (he won despite allowing four runs in 52/3 innings) but made up for his lack of dominating stuff with determination. Lincecum was a college star at Washington who breezed through the minors and the majors, winning the last two NL Cy Young Awards. But things started to get more difficult for him in August, when he went 0--5 with a 7.82 ERA.
Until then Lincecum had thrived on maximizing the power in his small frame (5'11", 170 pounds) with a whirling delivery and pure athleticism. "Timmy is amazing," Tidrow says. "He can walk on his hands, do a backflip, jump higher than anybody.... In the minors in San Jose [in 2006] the Latin guys would always ask him to do his backflip. You know how most people will bend their knees and spring up? Timmy would be standing there one second, and the next second he was flipping."
In August, though, manager Bruce Bochy and his staff saw a tired, pallid pitcher without the same life in his body. They lectured him about improving his between-starts fitness regimen and taking better care of himself. Lincecum says he "changed [his] workouts" to include more core and lower-body work. It worked: Including his Game 5 gem, Lincecum went 10--2 with a 2.18 ERA after Sept. 1, including four wins and a 2.43 ERA in six postseason games. He had also run his season innings total to a career-high 2491/3.
San Francisco fans waited more than half a century for this world championship, but the mere fact that Lincecum was wearing black and orange was another reminder of how important patience was in Sabean's team construction. After Lincecum went 7--5 with a 4.00 ERA and 150 strikeouts in 1461/3 innings in his rookie season, 2007, Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi called Sabean and offered outfielder Alex Rios for the young righthander. Rios had hit 24 home runs that year, and the Giants were starved for offense. They had just lost 91 games and, in what would be Bonds's final season, scored fewer runs than every National League team but one. Baseball buzzed about the proposed deal that winter.
"It's like poker," Sabean says. "I'll always look at a hand. I'll listen. But that time I probably let the deal hang out there a little too long. I've known J.P. a long time. I was trying to be fair to him. But I let it get more attention than it should. I wasn't interested.
"I knew after Bumgarner we had nobody else coming. So the minute I traded a pitcher, I would need to replace a pitcher, and I couldn't do it. The other thing is that in our park and in our division, pitching wins. I never came close to trading any of these guys."