Matt Cain will look to give San Francisco a 2-1 lead in Game 3 in the NLDS.
The star-studded staffs of the Giants and the Phillies have been largely dominant in the series so far, despite Roy Halladay's ho-hum performance in Game 1; but Game 3 has the potential to become an offensive shootout even though a pair of elite pitchers are involved.
Matt Cain (13-11, 3.14 ERA in the regular season) has to face a veteran Philadelphia lineup that is looking to reverse a growing trend of stranding runners on base. The Phillies can find solace in the fact that opposing hitters are batting, an unusually high, .267 with RISP and two outs against Cain (compared with fellow teammate Tim Lincecum's .228 in similar situations) and that he has the propensity to give up home runs, a specialty of the power-laden Phillies lineup.
In his only start against Philadelphia this year, the Giants right-hander gave up a three-run homer to Jimmy Rollins that was set up by a Mike Fontenot error three plays prior. Cain would give up five runs (two earned) on the day en route to an 8-2 Phillies' drubbing at Citizens Bank Park August 18th.
Though the circumstances may be a bit different this time around for Cain, the Phillies offense has too much firepower to stay quiet for another game. The Giants' right-hander is prone to the occasional pounding (he gave up six or more runs three times this season) and the middle infielders of the Phillies seem to have his number.
Rollins and Chase Utley have hit .600 and .467, respectively, over their careers against Cain, and the Phillies' shortstop has had five of his six hits go for extra bases, including the aforementioned blast from earlier this year.
On the flip side, Cole Hamels has been lights-out this postseason, as he looks to return to form since a rough performance last October
Hamels, though, has been historically sub-par against the Giants, especially at AT&T Park where he sports a 6.12 career ERA.
This year, the former World Series MVP, has been roughed up both times he has faced San Francisco, squeaking out a no-decision in their first meeting (he went 6 IP, 4 ER, but SF went 5 for 21 with RISP) and losing in their most recent matchup after giving up five runs in five innings pitched.
The scorching-hot Cody Ross murders Hamels with four home runs in his 30 at-bats against the lefty, and Buster Posey hit him hard in their first meeting with two doubles and two RBIs in the Giants' 5-2 win.
Hamels' penchant for giving up the long ball bodes well for a Giants' offense that hit the sixth-most home runs in the National League and with 26 homers allowed on the season, the Phillies' left-hander was tied for seventh in the NL, just in front of the WPIB (Worst Pitcher In Baseball) Zach Dukes.
Game 3 will no doubt be a must-watch affair, whether the offensive fireworks are set off in this NLDS mathcup looks to fall on the shoulders of the game's starting pitchers.
Jesse Paguaga is a regular contributor to Baseball Digest. He writes as an intern on the Bleacher Report website. Jesse writes for Gotham Baseball, along with Gotham Hoops and Gotham Gridiron. He can be reached at Paguaga@usc.edu and can be found on Facebook and on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/@jpags77