SAN FRANCISCO -- Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum are suddenly the game's greatest and most idiosyncratic Cy Young comeback story -- separately and, if you know them, totally and essentially together.
It's a buddy story, really, from riches to scorn to glory again, all unfolding in a stunning Giants postseason.
And it's about serendipity, massive talent, massive frustration, and on Wednesday it was about the two joining together to win Game 1 of the World Series.
"Yeah, it's great for us to be able to share that together," Lincecum said after the Giants' 8-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers to put this franchise three victories short of another championship. "We talked about it during the game and a little bit after the game.
"We're just riding the good times and just enjoying this. And looking forward to tomorrow."
Zito started and pitched 52/3 brilliant innings, then Lincecum relieved him and shut Detroit down for 21/3 more.
Of course, Pablo Sandoval blasted himself into the record book by hitting three home runs, and the Giants beat ace Justin Verlander.
But for Zito and Lincecum, this was a special bonding moment full of redemption, relief and understanding that Zito and Lincecum have gotten through all their troubles, in large part, by leaning on each other.
The Giants have won 14 consecutive times in Zito's starts, including three in the playoffs. And Lincecum -- after his horrendous regular season as a starter -- has become their most dominant and anticipated reliever.
This comes after Zito's epic struggles in the first five seasons of his Giants career and two years after he was left off the playoff roster when they won the 2010 World Series.
And it comes just days after Lincecum was shuffled out of the Giants' playoff rotation -- then back in for one game, when he lost Game 4 in St. Louis.
"Timmy and I have always been close, ever since the day he came up," Zito said. "But I think we got a little closer this year because I just tried to be there for him and help him out if he needed it this year."
Now Lincecum is a reliever again, and loving it. He has pitched 102/3 innings out of the bullpen in the playoffs and has given up one run and struck out 14.
He came in with Detroit staging a mini-rally in the sixth but quickly ended it by striking out Jhonny Peralta on four pitches -- three of them wicked sliders.
"To have him in the bullpen, it's just ridiculous," Zito said. "It's such a tool in our pocket that we can bust out at any time, a guy that has made history with his two Cy Youngs.
"It was really special personally, too, to watch Timmy carve them up and just do what he does."
Before Lincecum came in, Zito duplicated much of what he did in his crucial Game 5 victory over St. Louis in the NLCS.
Featuring his 84 mph fastball, Zito kept Detroit's big hitter off-balance and never let the Tigers get anything going.
"I think Zito's just in a really good mindset right now," Lincecum said. "Regardless of what happens in the inning, he's just going out there focused on that batter and that pitch."
And is that the same thing you're doing now, Tim?
"I'm just getting my outs," Lincecum said. "It's as simple a mindset as you can have. I'm getting my outs until they tell me I'm done."
But it's clear Lincecum is a different pitcher out of the bullpen this season.
He is looser, less burdened and able to throw his slider more often because he doesn't have to worry about saving his arm for later in the game.
By the way, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the second game in World Series history that featured three pitchers who had won a Cy Young Award (Zito, Lincecum and Verlander).
The Giants set another record when Zito drove in a run with a clean single off a 97 mph Verlander fastball in the fourth -- it was their fourth consecutive game with an RBI from a pitcher.
Zito is the one who started it with a bunt RBI in Game 5, so now he amazingly has two.
"Yeah," Lincecum said with a smile, "Zito's definitely more surprised than anybody."
And did Lincecum want to join the pitching hit parade when he got a rare late-game at-bat himself?
"Ohhh, really badly," Lincecum said.
He couldn't quite pull it off -- he struck out -- but Lincecum's smile was the best and brightest sign for the Giants.
He and Zito are back, they are in this together, and they couldn't be happier about any of this.