Last night was the most dominating playoff performance by a Giants starting pitcher possibly ever.

Complete game, two hits, 14 strikeouts.

It was only Lincecum’s second complete game of the season. He also matched a career high in strikeouts. He struggled a bit in the first inning but figured it out after that.

Lincecum seemed to be overly excited and gave up a leadoff double to the Braves’ Omar Infante. The double seemed to settle him down and Timmy was able to pitch his game.

He was in complete control.

The question now remains, how will Matt Cain follow this performance?

If there is a pitcher on the Giants’ staff that has always seemed born for playoff baseball, it is Cain. He has been San Francisco’s most consistent pitcher all season but had his worst outing of the year last Saturday against San Diego.

Cain has a 2-2 career record with a 4.03 ERA against the Braves.

He is usually as stoic as can be on the mound. It doesn’t ever seem like anything bothers him. Tonight will be the night to find out for sure.

The mystique of the playoffs has worn off for the lineup and for at least one pitcher. If Cain commands the strike zone, as he usually does, then it should not be much problem for him.

Seeing Lincecum pitch as he did may ease Cain for his start. But if he begins to struggle and become predictable in his pitch selection, it could be a long night for Cain.

One thing Cain is used to dealing with, playoffs or not, is lack of run support. The Giants had opportunities last night to score runs and were only able to capitalize once.

The case could be made that Infante should have made that play. If he had, they may still be playing right now.

The Giants have an opportunity to take a stranglehold on the series before taking the flight to Atlanta for Games Three and Four (if necessary). Atlanta does not play well on the road but is the best home team in the National League.

Cain is the key. Pitching is the key.

Cain was built for the playoffs. Now, it’s time to prove it.

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