Biggest NLDS winner? Roy Halladay vs. Tim Lincecum in the NLCS

'Duk

For the San Francisco Giants, Monday's 3-2 win over the Atlanta Braves gave the team its first trip to the NLCS since 2002.

For the rest of the baseball world, it preserved a potentially epic pitching matchup in Saturday's Game 1.

That's called a win-win situation.

Unless you had a dog wearing a Braves or Phillies collar in this fight, I'm not sure how a big baseball fan could have been rooting for any other outcome in Game 4 of the NLDS. Yes, a Game 5 on Wednesday back in San Francisco would have been fun and exciting, but it would have also required Tim Lincecum(notes) to climb the AT&T Park mound to save the Giants' season.

Regardless of the outcome, such a scenario would have erased the possibility of Lincecum being matched against Roy Halladay(notes) and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday. No. 2 starter Matt Cain(notes) would have been a nice substitute for Lincecum had the Giants advanced, but it wouldn't have quite been the same.

I'm sure someone will later run the numbers to tell us for certain, but have two pitchers ever entered a bigger game coming off such dominating performances? Halladay threw a no-hitter against the Reds in Game 1 of his NLDS, while Lincecum answered with a two-hit, 14-strikeout complete-game shutout against the Braves one night later. Lincecum's game score of 96 was actually higher than Halladay's 94, leading to an Internet debate of which start was actually more impressive.

Now not only do we get to see that silly argument settled on the rubber on Saturday night, but maybe we get an encore later in the series. Just as important, the other matchups between Roy Oswalt(notes)-Matt Cain and Cole Hamels(notes)-Jonathan Sanchez stay aligned. One vs. one, two vs. two, etc. That's the way you want to watch a series like this one.

It's also great for Major League Baseball, because between now and the start of the series, you might read an article or two about the embarrassing wealth of pitching this series is going to feature. With NFL golden boy Brett Favre taking a beating, baseball has a huge chance to dominate the headlines for all the right reasons.

Personally, I can't wait to watch. Let the hype for Funner vs. @!#* Yeah! begin.

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