Who would have thought that in a series that began with a Cliff Lee–Tim Lincecum pitching match-up, the best performance by a starter would come from a rookie in Game 4? But with all due respect to Matt Cain and Colby Lewis, both of whom won their starts with strong outings, it was Madison Bumgarner’s eight shutout innings last night that has the San Francisco Giants within a win of their first World Series victory (as the San Francisco Giants, at least).
Barbara Bush’s score sheet would show just three Texas hits — all of them singles. (Bumgarner’s outing called to mind young Andy Pettitte’s memorable start in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, except that Bumgarner, 21, is three years younger than Pettitte was that year.) And that score sheet would also show Aubrey Huff’s homer to open the scoring, Andres Torres’s run-scoring double, and an eighth-inning home run by Buster Posey (another rookie) that carried and carried and cleared the center-field fence.
All of which makes tonight’s second Lee-Lincecum match-up so much more interesting than the first. Lee, the free agent to be, pitches with his team’s season on the line, just days after the Giants tagged him in Game 1. And Lincecum, the freakish San Francisco ace, pitches with the chance to win the World Series, coming off an underwhelming Game 1 start of his own. So far, San Francisco has controlled this series. But if there’s any one man who can dominate a playoff game and perhaps change the momentum of a series, even when matched up against a former Cy Young winner like Lincecum, it’s Cliff Lee.