After Madison Bumgarner's masterful performance in Game 4, the Giants have shut out the Rangers twice now in this World Series. The Rangers were shut out five times during the course of the season, so they're obviously up against a pitching staff unlike any they've seen this year. Only five teams have come back from 3-1 deficits to win a seven-game World Series, and 24 of the previous 44 such series ended in Game 5. The odds are stacked in the Giants' favor in a lot of ways.Considering how this Giants club has ridden its pitching and considering how Lincecum is the centerpiece to that mound movement, it's only fitting that he's the one getting the ball with the World Series hanging in the balance for the first time. Lincecum has crafted a 2.79 postseason ERA through four starts and a relief appearance, and if he can end it anything close to the way he started it, the Giants will be in fine shape. Lincecum's 14-strikeout, two-hit shutout to open the National League Division Series against the Braves set the tone for the Giants' pitching-driven run that's now within a game of a championship. As usual, it's more likely a matter of how much support Lincecum might receive than what he might deliver. Oddly enough, Lee's ability to hit the strike zone actually fit well with a Giants team that has been known to swing freely in Game 1, as their aggressive approach racked up the hits and helped knock him out after 104 pitches in 4 2/3 innings. The Giants continued to show they are road warriors Sunday night, moving to 5-2 for the postseason in away games after closing out the regular season with five road series victories and the best road record in the Majors after July 4. So if they sealed the deal on the road, just as they did in the NLDS and the NL Championship Series, it wouldn't be much of a surprise. Certainly, if they did it with Lincecum leading the way with a masterful outing, that wouldn't be much of a surprise, either. That he's on the mound with fate on the line is how it should be. If everyone who followed and cheered the Giants this season closed their eyes, they'd see No. 55 on the mound for this game, the game that could wind up making history.
It's in the hands of Tim Lincecum, and if that's not everything the Giants ever could have asked for, then what is? Just give the Freak the ball, and put the champagne on ice. Monday's shot to clinch the franchise's first World Series title since the Giants moved to San Francisco in 1958 is in very good hands with Lincecum on the mound and the Giants holding a 3-1 advantage in the Fall Classic. If the two-time Cy Young Award winner does in Game 5 what he normally does, that means the Giants should claim the franchise's first title since 1954 before they return to the West Coast to what undoubtedly would be a homecoming like no other. (Opposing view: Why the Rangers will win Game 5)
This postseason and this World Series, after Game 1 at least, is hammering home the age-old truth that great pitching beats good hitting, and the Giants are going with their best with the game's greatest prize on the line. Of course, the Rangers will have Mr. Postseason on their side, but the Giants managed to get something going against Cliff Lee in Game 1 -- using his strike-throwing ways against him with an aggressive approach that has been their downfall at times this year.