Game 4 of the National League Championship Series was hailed as a match-up of marquee starting pitchers, and there's really no disputing that; San Francisco's Tim Lincecum won Cy Young Awards in 2008 and '9, while St. Louis's Adam Wainwright finished third in 2009 Cy Young balloting and second in '10.
But Wainwright missed all of 2011 before returning with a solid 2012; in Game 5 of the Cardinals' Division Series game against the Nationals, Wainwright gave up six runs and got knocked out in the third inning. Meanwhile, Lincecum, after posting a 5.18 ERA in the regular season, wasn't even in the Giants' Division Series rotation. But three strong relief outings -- two against the Nationals, then another in Game 1 of this NLCS -- earned Lincecum the start in Game 4.
In the first inning, Wainwright retired the Giants in order.
Lincecum wouldn't have nearly so easy a time.
Leadoff man Jon Jay whacked Lincecum's third pitch into center field for a single. Matt Carpenter walked on four pitches. Matt Holliday shot a single into center, with Jay scoring easily and Carpenter going to third.
Already in a big jam, Lincecum slipped two quick strikes past Allen Craig, only to nibble and run the count the full. Craig then drove a pitch to center field that Angel Pagan snared just a few inches from the grass. Lincecum finally had an out, but Carpenter trotted home easily.
But somehow Lincecum recovered to strike out Daniel Descalso on three pitches to end the inning.
During the regular season, Lincecum gave up 28 runs in the first innings of his starts.
We can tack on another two. Maybe it was a blip. But he threw 25 pitches in Game 4's first inning, and didn't seem to know where most of them were going. Stay tuned, but heading into the second inning it's Cardinals 2, Giants 0.