One point for spotting Larry Baer. 10 points for spotting Benito Santiago.

Well, that game was just a huge pile of blah. In the morning you’re waiting for the rains to come and for the game to get either delayed or postponed before it even starts. Then next thing you know it’s 3-1 Cardinals, and it doesn’t matter how long the delay lasts because the Giants won’t drive anyone in anyway…

Because Matt Cain pitched better than he had in his two outings against the Reds, this game probably qualifies as a standard “Caining.” He kept the Giants in the game, and if they didn’t go 0-for-7 with RISP things could’ve gone much differently.

Still, did this Cain outing strike anyone else as being on the strange side? There was that pitch that went directly into Jon Jay’s knee (still hate that guy) to start things off, then he airmailed that pitch high and outside to Carlos Beltran* that Buster Posey made a sneaky-great play to keep from hitting the screen, let alone catch. Then there was the pickoff throw Belt couldn’t keep from hurtling into the stands.

Cain was good today. However, if we’re going to delve into the land of incredibly high expectations for every Giant, I’m going to come out and say it: I expected more from Cain this postseason. Not a lot more, but more.

However, he wasn’t the reason why the Giants lost. Neither was the bullpen. Javier Lopez continues to be a robot assassin, and George Kontos could damn well be the closer by this time next year. Yeah, I said it.

***

I’m not one to get agitated over the day-to-day lineups. I’ve found some of Bruce Bochy’s peccadilloes (like the second baseman must always bat second) to be amusing, but nothing to down Xanax over.

Tonight, everyone agrees that lineup changes must be made for Game 4. I am 100% in favor of this, and I’m about 99.5% certain Bruce Bochy is as well.

For Bochy, this isn’t about being a players’ manager, it’s about putting his players in the best position to succeed. And if Bochy doesn’t do something soon, the greatest offensive weapon still currently playing baseball will be rendered almost completely useless.

I refuse to believe Posey has been “off” during most of his plate appearances this postseason. He’s pressing because he’s acutely aware of his role. Walks are great during the regular season, but there’s no time to worry about OBP in a tournament where opposing managers have no qualms with using their best bullpen arms every single game. Posey is taking walks when he absolutely has to, he’s collecting base hits here and there because he’s the best contact hitter alive, and he’s gambling more than ever because he IS the San Francisco Giants.

Right now, Hunter Pence hitting behind Posey is like buying a Lamborghini and parking it under a tree where pigeons roost.

***

So everyone is throwing lineups against the wall to see what might stick behind Tim Lincecum’s first start of the playoffs. I’m hesitant to follow along the same road one could easily follow by doing a quick #sfgiants search on Twitter after Game 3, but there are some things I think Bochy will do and some things I think he should do.

Bochy will:

Start Hector Sanchez behind the plate.

Bench Brandon Belt, who needs to read the room a little when he strikes out looking. Posey will get borderline calls, but he’s MLB royalty and doesn’t show up umpires. Belt has a fantastic eye, a beautiful swing and amazing footwork around first base. What he does not possess is the respect of umpires, and he isn’t impressing his manager by compensating for errors in judgment with a sour expression and several loud opinions.

Move Hunter Pence down in the order. Bochy moved Lincecum and now Madison Bumgarner to the bullpen, and they’ve built a lot more equity. You want Pence to sit? Good luck — Bochy believes in him and he’s seen Adam Wainwright more than anyone else on the team.

Bochy should:

Bat Posey third. The Cardinals have to respect Pablo Sandoval’s bat more than Pence’s, but I’d also like to see what Marco Scutaro could do with that type of protection. He flashed as much power as any Giants hitter not named Posey over the last month of the season. Don’t believe me? Look at Scutaro’s numbers for Sept/Oct, sandwiched between mashers like Madison Bumgarner and Santiago Casilla if you rank the Giants by slugging percentage:

– I guess that’s pretty much it.

***

If you’re asking me for my dream lineup tomorrow against Wainwright, it would look like this:

Pagan – CF
Scutaro – 2B
Posey – 1B
Sandoval – 3B
Blanco – RF
Sanchez – C
Belt – LF
Crawford – SS
Lincecum – P

Belt is by no means on fire, but he has been a better hitter than Pence ever since the Giants made that deadline deal with the Phillies. And if Matt Holliday can play left at Busch, I’m sure Belt would be fine for a game or two.

Here’s the lineup I think we’ll see:

Pagan – CF
Scutaro – 2B
Sandoval – 3B
Posey – 1B
Sanchez – C
Pence – RF
Blanco – LF
Crawford – SS
Lincecum – P

* So, Beltran “strained” his left knee and left the game so Cain’s arch-nemesis Matt Carpenter could come in and hit the deciding home run, and Beltran’s injury is reportedly minor enough where he might play in Game 4. A lot of us have probably felt a little extra knee pain when a storm comes; was that the problem here?

In other news, with Holliday’s slide-tackle on Scutaro I’m having a hard time thinking of a set of starting outfielders more repugnant than the Cardinals’ right now.