NLCS Game 7: The lineup and assorted panic

Thearon W. Henderson

IS ZITO STARTING ON SHORT REST? IS RYAN THERIOT HITTING LEADOFF? IS BUSTER POSEY PLAYING SHORTSTOP? HE PLAYED THERE IN COLLEGE, YOU KNOW. THIS AND OTHER ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN

This Game 7 can't be the most important game in San Francisco baseball history. That would be Game 7 of the 1962 World Series. And until there's another Game 7 of a World Series played, there isn't even a debate. You can argue for Game 7 of the 2002 World Series, but most of us were still vomiting during the first pitch from the side effects of Game 6.

But, well, if the conversation is the second most important game in San Francisco baseball history, Game 7 of the 2012 National League Championship Series is in the conversation. It's certainly the most important game in the 12-year history of AT&T Park. The Giants have played 8,759 regular-season games since moving from New York. They've played 81 postseason games.

Of those almost 9,000 games, Giants fans have maybe once or twice had reason to be as nervous about an impending game as they do about Monday's game.

In case you're wondering why you're feeling like this.

That's probably why.

Guh.

Of the 541 pitchers to start a game for the San Francisco Giants, from Ainsworth to Zito, there aren't a lot of them who would make you more comfortable starting a Game 7 than Matt Cain. Juan Marichal, certainly, and you could make a strong argument for Gaylord Perry, too. Peak-year Lincecum and Jason Schmidt are high on the list.

But Matt Cain. He's one of the best pitchers in Giants history. He's one of the most consistently brilliant pitchers in Giants history. He's certainly been the most consistently brilliant pitcher on the Giants this season. So if it had to shake out like this, where a game lined up to be one of the most important games in Giants history, it would have been nearly impossible for the franchise to pick a better pitcher for the job.

At this point, I've realized that I have no point, no thesis. I'm just rambling and trying to figure out why I feel like I took a bunch of unmarked prescription medication. I'm as likely to trail off and start mumbling a show tune as I am to write a coherent article. I keep going back and forth between thoughts of "Matt Cain Matt Cain Matt Cain" and dark, basebally thoughts of all the things that could go wrong in a single game.

Or all the things that could go right.

Matt Cain could go right, for example.

I thought this was supposed to be fun. I mean, it is. But in the weirdest way. And since I typed that, I decided that this isn't fun.

Here's the lineup for Game 7. There's a Game 7 tonight.

Angel Pagan - CF
Marco Scutaro - 2B
Pablo Sandoval - 3B
Buster Posey - C
Hunter Pence - RF
Brandon Belt - 1B
Gregor Blanco - LF
Brandon Crawford - SS
Matt Cain - RHP

The Opening Day lineup was this, for comparison:

Angel Pagan - CF
Melky Cabrera - RF
Pablo Sandoval - 3B
Buster Posey - C
Aubrey Huff - LF
Brandon Belt - 1B
Ryan Theriot - 2B
Brandon Crawford - SS
Tim Lincecum - RHP

Look at how weird that looks now. Aubrey Huff in the outfield. Melky on the roster and in right. Ryan Theriot in the lineup. And Tim Lincecum as the ace because of course he is.

The new lineup has the crazy eyes of Hunter Pence, Scutaro, who is the best midseason acquisition since Cody Ross and Pat Burrell, and Matt Cain as the ace because of course he is.

This isn't fun. This is amazing. I want to sleep until tomorrow so I can calmly walk down to the newsstand, smoking a pipe and wearing a robe, and leisurely toss a quarter to the guy at the stand for a paper. I'd reach down, get the paper, look at the front page, and exclaim, "Golly! So that's what happened!"

Of course, that isn't possible.

Good god.

Game 7, huh? Okay.

Don't forget about TiqIQ if you want tickets for tonight's game. The ticket prices have been going down since last week, but they're still not to the point where anyone wants to just give me one.

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