ST. LOUIS The Giants and Cardinals can shoot all the sunshine they want about their confidence in Tim Lincecum and Adam Wainwright.But in reality, neither side knows what to expect from the man they send to the hill in Game 4 Thursday night. The two formerly bankable aces are no longer backed by the FDIC.Wainwright got pounded for six runs in less than three innings by the Washington Nationals in his last start, serving up three home runs to put the Cardinals in what will go down as the most famous 6-0 hole in franchise history.And Lincecum, despite three squeaky clean long relief outings this postseason, had the highest ERA of any starting pitcher in the National League during the regular season.Lincecum might operate exclusively from the stretch. He might throw to Hector Sanchez and not Buster Posey. However he does it, the Giants need the same strike-throwing tendencies that Lincecum displayed while allowing one run, walking one and striking out eight this postseason.
UPDATE: Sanchez catching, Posey at first base
Itll be a major advantage if he doesnt have to face Carlos Beltran, who left Game 3 after one at-bat because of a left knee strain. Beltran is 7 for 14 with a home run, three doubles and just one strikeout (plus six walks, too) in his career against Lincecum.UPDATE: Carlos Beltran scratched from Game 4
Yadier Molina has been swinging a Popsicle this postseason but hes a .412 hitter (7 for 17, all singles) against Lincecum. Matt Holliday is a .294 hitter but doesnt have a home run in 34 career at-bats vs. the right-hander.Lincecum did not face the Cardinals in the regular season.
Wainwright was 6-8 with a 4.75 ERA through June but pitched much better in the second half, going 8-5 with a 3.18 ERA over his final 16 starts. Thats to be expected for a pitcher who missed all of 2011 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.Despite getting throttled by the Nationals in a memorable Game 5 of the NLDS, Wainwrights Game 1 start against them included 10 strikeouts and one run in 5 23 innings.While he doesnt throw as hard as he once did, Wainwrights curveball remains one of the best in the league and he has no discernable platoon split.Struggling right fielder Hunter Pence is a .289 hitter (11 for 38) against Wainwright and owns the only home run by an active Giant against him. Xavier Nady is a .391 hitter with only two strikeouts in 23 at-bats.Wainwright beat the Giants at Busch Stadium on Aug. 9, holding them to a run on five hits and three walks while striking out seven in seven innings of a 3-1 victory.This stage is nothing new to either starting pitcher. Lincecum is making his first postseason start since he won a clinching Game 5 at Texas in the 2010 World Series. And Wainwright, prior to his last blowup at Washington, owned a 0.77 ERA in 11 career postseason games (two starts), including a save in a clinching Game 5 when the Cards defeated the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 World Series.