The San Fransisco Giants completed a three game run against the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals to punch their ticket to the World Series, and they did it on the back of their pitching staff. Zito and Vogelsong spun two gems to force a game seven, and Matt Cain took over the rest.
Let's do an inning by inning breakdown of how Cain stiffled the Cards.
Cain struck out Jon Jay swinging with a nasty 2-seamer at the letters. He gave up a bloop single to Beltran, but managed to strand him in scoring position with two weak fly balls.
The second was a little shakier for Cain, as he allowed runners to get to second and third with two outs before getting Lohse to lineout on a great leaping catch by Brandon Crawford. Cain also showed off his skill at the plate in the bottom half, as he knocked a hanging slider back up the middle for an RBI single to put the Giants up 2-0.
After allowing a leadoff single to Jay, Cain settled in and got three straight outs to retire the side. To this point in the game, Cain had only struck out two batters, inducing five fly balls and only two ground balls while walking one. Let's take a look at his pitch location through the first three innings.
Coupling this with the contact rate of hitters, it is easy to see that his command of his pitches was excellent.
As you can see, the spots that Cain was hitting most frequently were a virtual dead zone for Cardinals hitters through the first half of his outing. Even though Cain wasn't striking out hitters at a high rate, he maintained good control of all of his pitches and continued to induce outs.
Cain gave up a leadoff single before retiring three straight via fly out, strikeout, and ground out respectively. At this point, the game had gotten completely out of hand, with the Giants leading 7-0, it was Cain's job to get outs. When this happens, a pitcher can begin to focus on pounding the strikezone, attacking hitters, and pitching to contact.
Cain retired the side in order, forcing a ground out, a lineout, and a fly out. One important thing to notice during this outing is the amount of line drive outs to this point in the game: three; any one of those could have landed for a hit early and completely changed the dynamic of the game, but every pitcher knows how to appreciate a hard hit ball right at a fielder.
After hitting the first batter and allowing yet another line drive out at the second baseman, Cain gave up a seeing-eye single through the left side of the infield. He settled down to punch out David Freese for his last batter of the day.
As you can see, Cain's location shifted more towards the middle of the plate. Usually this is asking for trouble for a pitcher, but as mentioned previously, Cain had been given a big lead, and his excellent compliment of pitches led to a very successful outing and a trip to the World Series. This will be the Giants' second trip in the past three years, and they will ride the success of their starting pitchers as far as it will take them.