Heading into the 2010 Major League Baseball season, there was one thing the Bay Area and everyone else knew for sure about the San Francisco Giants. Namely, that the squad would contend as long and as hard as the starting pitching would allow.

It was justifiably considered the organization’s backbone and primary weapon on the diamond.

Two-time defending National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, as notorious for throwing smoke as he became for inhaling it, was the unquestioned leader of the staff.

His younger wingman, Matt Cain, was coming off his first All-Star team selection and best season of his steadily improving career. Jonathan Sanchez, who registered the first no-hitter by a Giant in over 30 years against the San Diego Padres in 2009 and was firmly entrenched in his prime, would be the No. 4 starter.

Completing the robust rotation were blue-chip phenom Madison Bumgarner, whose arrival was only a matter of time regardless of what the brass told place-holder Todd Wellemeyer, as well as veteran southpaw and local chew-toy Barry Zito.

Even with the can-of-kerosene-wearing Wellemeyer’s uniform torching the rotation every fifth day (in reluctant fairness to the right-hander, he was actually pretty good at AT&T Park), it looked like a ferocious group on paper.

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