By Steve Keating
(Reuters) - Baseball fans will get just one look at San Francisco Giants ace Matt Cain in the World Series but that will be more than enough for the Detroit Tigers, who would prefer to see as little as possible of the big right-hander.
Cain has not been as overpowering this postseason as he was while tossing a perfect game in June, or shown the dominant form of the 2010 Fall Classic when he did not yield an earned run during the Giants title drive, but he delivers when needed most.
While his 2012 playoff record is 2-2, Cain was on the hill for the decisive fifth game against the Cincinnati Reds in the National League Division Series and the clinching seventh game of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals taking credit for both wins.
Cain has been Mr. Clutch for the Giants the 2012 playoffs, becoming just the second Major League Baseball pitcher to record victories in two series deciders in the same postseason.
"His makeup is off the chart. He goes out there and pitches his heart out every time out, and that's all you can ask," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "One thing he'll give you on a consistent basis is a chance to win."
The Giants will ask Cain to take the hill only once during the best-of-seven World Series that begins on Wednesday in San Francisco in order to give him rest after pitching their do-or-die Game Seven against the Cardinals on Monday.
The 16-game winner in the regular season, however, remains the lynchpin of a pitching staff that includes former Cy Young award winners Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito and has hit its stride heading into the Fall Classic, surrendering just one run over the final three games of the NLCS.
"All of us expect to win the day we pitch," said Cain, who is scheduled to start Game Four in Detroit on October 28. "I think that's the role we want to take. .... We want to try to put the team on your back and lead them to victory."
The Giants spotted Cain's potential early and made him their top draft pick in 2002. The 28-year-old has an 85-78 mark since making his Giants debut in 2005, including a career-best 16-5 record during the 2012 regular season.
During a home game against the Houston Astros in June, Cain etched his name in the history books by becoming the first San Francisco pitcher to record a perfect game by retiring all 27 batters he face.
Cain was nearly as perfect during the 2010 postseason pitching 21 scoreless innings as the Giants beat the Texas Rangers to win the World Series.
Even without his best stuff working, Cain provides an imposing presence on the mound his sheer will to win usually compensating for any lack of sharpness.
"I want to go out there, even the days that I don't have my good stuff, I feel like I'm going to try to find ways to get through that," said Cain.
"That's something I try to do and hopefully the guys can feed off that and pick me up the days that you don't have the good stuff."
(Editing by Frank Pingue)