October 2010


World Series Game 3: Rangers 4, Giants 2
Texas returned home down two games and found the big hit they lacked for the first part of the series in San Francisco. Mitch Moreland, an unlikely choice for a game 3 hero, belted a three-run homer off Jonathan Sanchez in the bottom of the second inning to give the Rangers all the runs they would need to win their first game of the series.

Josh Hamilton also added a solo shot as the Rangers defeated the Giants 4-2. Colby Lewis continued a stellar postseason run with 7.2 innings of effective work with just two runs allowed on five hits for the win. Neftali Feliz pitched a scoreless ninth inning with two strikeouts to record the save.

The Giants two runs were scored on solo blasts by Cody Ross and Andres Torres, but that was all they could muster off Lewis and company. For the second consecutive start Sanchez struggled on the big stage as he failed to go at least five innings again and gave up four runs through 4.2 innings.

The Rangers and Giants meet for Game 4 tonight in Arlington with Madison Bumgarner starting for the Giants against Rangers righty Tommy Hunter.

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World Series Game 2: Giants 9, Rangers 0
Panic time in Texas? Matt Cain dominated the Rangers on route to a 9-0 victory in Game 2 to give the Giants a 2-0 lead in the World Series.

Cain continued his magnificent performance in the postseason with 7.2 shutout innings on four hits, two walks and four strikeouts. Everything that was expected of Lincecum this postseason has pretty much come in the form of Cain. The Giants starter has not allowed an earned run in three starts this postseason.

The Giants lineup, which may be the weakest lineup star-wise to start a WS in years, scrapped their way to another big game with nine runs. Edgar Renteria, who hit three home runs in the regular season, opened the scoring in the fifth inning with a solo home run to left field. With the score 2-0 and the Giants already chasing Texas starter CJ Wilson from the game, their offense broke out for seven runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Renteria finished with three RBI and Aaron Rowand drove in two on a triple in San Francisco’s big inning.

Wilson matched Cain step for step until Renteria’s home run as he finished 6.0 innings of work and two runs allowed for the loss. The Rangers came on and gave up the seven runs to turn the game into a blowout.

The Rangers head back to Texas for Game 3 in what is pretty much a must-win game for them at this point. Colby Lewis, who was brilliant in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Yankees, will go for Texas against Jonathan Sanchez who only lasted two innings in his last start of the NLCS.

World Series Game 1: Giants 11, Rangers 7
If you would have told me prior to Game 1 that the Rangers would score seven runs and lose with Cliff Lee on the mound, I would have committed you. In your insanity, if you would have also told me that a game where Lee faced Tim Lincecum would end up with 18 total runs, I may have given up on you altogether. Yet, that’s exactly the way the script went for Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday night. So much for that once-in-a-lifetime pitching duel. That’s why they play the game I guess.

The Giants ripped Lee all around the ballpark on route to an 11-7 victory at AT&T Park to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Lee lasted just 4.1 innings with seven runs allowed (six earned) on eight hits, one walk, one HBP and seven strikeouts. Hey, he did have a double off Lincecum though in the second inning. It was his first ever loss in what was a remarkable postseason career up until last night. It wasn’t all his fault as the defense behind him fell apart as well as Texas recorded four errors in the game. Lee ran into major trouble in the fifth after Torres doubled with out. Freddy Sanchez ripped an RBI double, Posey struck and Burrell walked. Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff followed with back-to-back RBI singles to chase Lee from the outing. Juan Uribe welcome Rangers reliever Darren O’Day with a three-run blast deep into the San Francisco night for the big hit the Giants were looking for. It was Uribe’s second crucial home run in as many games as he hit the eventual game-winning homer in Game 6 of the NLCS in Philadelphia.

Sanchez didn’t have a bad game himself. He only doubled in his first three WS at-bats and finished with four hits and three RBI. Not bad for a former Bucco! (sorry, I had to add the Pirates plug in there). Three extra-base hits with no home runs in a WS game? It’s only happened a handful of times before.

The Giants actually trailed the game 2-0 early and got out of a jam after a horrendous brain fart by Lincecum. The Giants starter had Michael Young in a run down with one out in the first inning and decided to run him back to third base instead of flipping to third for the out. Lincecum had to of thought the other runner had moved up to third, so the lead runner would be out, but that was not the case. Inexplicable decision by Lincecum, but he got out of it against the next batter, enticing Ian Kinsler to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Even with an 8-2 lead, Lincecum wasn’t great either as he only made it 5.2 innings allowing four runs on eight hits, two walks with three strikeouts. The difference here was a big W in the win column.

For Texas, Vlad Guerrero and Nelson Cruz each had a hit and two RBI while Bengie Molina and Mitch Moreland each recorded two hits.

The Rangers will try to bounce back tonight with CJ Wilson taking the hill against Giants starter Matt Cain in Game 2. All Cain has done so far this postseason is allowed zero earned runs in 13.2 innings.

As for a random non-game thought from last night, I’m all for being patriotic, but can we lose “God Bless America” for the 7th inning stretch and go back to the old-fashioned “Take Me Out to the Ballgame?” The National Anthem is sung before every game, I don’t think we need another national TV performance of an American song. Let the Giants fans, who were having a good time at that point, sing and go crazy for “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

NLCS Game 6: Giants 3, Phillies 2 (Giants win series 4-games-2)
The Giants scratched out enough runs again in a hostile environment to defeat the Phillies 3-2 to eliminate the former back-to-back NL champs and punch their own ticket to the Fall Classic against the Rangers.

Juan Uribe hit a go-ahead solo home run in the top of the eighth inning off Phillies reliever Ryan Madson to give the Giants a 3-2 lead that held up as the winning run. This coming from a guy who was hitting under .100 this postseason and off of a pitcher that has been stellar for Philadelphia up until tonight. This all after the Giants had tied the game in the third inning off of another Phillies either as Aubrey Huff scored when Buster Posey‘s slow roller to third base gave Polanco trouble as he threw wildly to first base, hit the runner and got away from Ryan Howard to allow Huff to score and tie it. The Phillies showed shoddy defense all series.

The other aspect that has to be talked about for the Giants in Game 6 was the fantastic pitching by the bullpen. After Jonathan Sanchez left following 2.0-plus innings of work, the bullpen took over to shut down Philadelphia the rest of the way. Jeremy Affeldt, Madison Bumgarner, Javier Lopez, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson worked the rest of the game allowing no runs. Lincecum even picked up a hold! Wilson came on and worked a five-out save and got Ryan Howard to strikeout looking with two runners on in an epic at-bat to end the game and the Phillies season. Lopez picked up the win and Wilson earned his third save of the season. Cody Ross picked up NLCS MVP honors, but no one would have complained had it gone to Wilson and his beard instead.

Phillies starter Roy Oswalt was good, but not terrific as he scattered nine hits over 6.0 innings allowing two runs (one earned) with five strikeouts. Oswalt gave way to Madson, who gave up the home run to Uribe in his second inning of work for the loss. It was the first run allowed all postseason by Madson…and couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The Giants continue to win tight ball games, string together just enough runs and pitch the lights out on the road, at home, anywhere to advance to their first World Series since 2002 in the post-Bonds era. You can’t say enough about how difficult of a performance it was for them to go into a hostile environment like a rockin’ house in Philly, take your starter out in third inning and still rally for the victory. Unbelievable stuff right there.

Cliff Lee versus Tim Lincecum Wednesday night for Game 1. Wow, I can’t wait for this series.

ALCS Game 6: Rangers 6, Yankees 1 (Rangers win series 4-games-2)
Forget about wondering if the Yankees could actually beat Cliff Lee in Game 7 because they won’t get the chance after they couldn’t handle Colby Lewis. Lewis fired a gem to lead the Rangers to a 6-1 victory to earn a World Series ticket for the first time in franchise history.

The Rangers not only eliminated the Yankees, but eliminated the past troubles and playoff losses to New York with a 6-1 clinching game in front of their home fans. Lewis baffled Yankees hitters all night, allowing just three hits, one run in 8.0 innings of work with eight strikeouts. Not only was it Lewis’ second win of the series, but it may have been his best performance of his life.

Texas broke a 1-1 game wide open with a four-spot in the bottom of the fifth inning. Vladimir Guerrero ripped a two-RBI double to break the tie and Nelson Cruz followed it up with a two-run homer to provide Texas with a “we’ve made it moment” with the hysterical crowd at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Yankees starter Phil Hughes was hit around for the second time in the series, allowing four runs, four hits, four walks in an ineffective 4.2 innings.

Ian Kinsler added an RBI-sac fly later in the game to make it 6-1, but the rest was about Lewis performance against a lineup that produced 859 runs in the regular season. Closer Neftali Feliz came in for the ninth and struck out two in the inning, including a strikeout looking of Alex Rodriguez to end the game. It was fitting that the former Ranger would make the final out, but how in the world does A-Rod take that 0-2 pitch from Feliz? Terrible.

Texas will await the winner of the NLCS as it prepares for the first World Series appearance in team history.

NLCS Game 5: Phillies 4, Giants 2
Well it wasn’t pretty, but on a soggy, strange night in San Francisco, Roy Halladay out dueled Tim Lincecum in round 2 to defeat the Giants, 4-2, and send the series back to Philadelphia. The Giants lead the series 3 games to 2.

The Phillies took advantage of suspect defense and a missed foul call on a Halladay bunt to score three runs in the top of the third inning and never gave up that lead behind Halladay and stellar work for their bullpen. Despite giving up a run in the first inning and looking visibly angry at the umpire, Halladay settled down to go 6.0 innings with two runs allowed on six hits, two walks and five strikeouts for the win. Ryan Madson struck out the side in the eighth inning and Brad Lidge worked his first save of the series with a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

The Phillies opened the third with a single and a hit by pitch with Halladay coming to the plate. He attempted a bunt that hit home plate and rolled back, but was ruled a fair ball by the umpire. Posey picked it up and fired to first to almost nab Ibanez at third, but Sandoval missed the bag with his foot. With runners on third and second with one out, Victorino hit a line drive to first where Aubrey Huff misplayed off his glove and caromed into right field as both runs scored. Polanco singled in the next at-bat to score Victorino to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead.

Jayson Werth added a solo home run, his second of the series, to provide an insurance run in the top of the ninth inning. The Phillies were actually out-hit in this one, 7-6.

Lincecum went 7.0 innings, but allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits, one walk and seven strikeouts to get tagged with the loss.

The teams will meet Saturday night back in Philadelphia for Game 6. Can the Giants win one game in Philly to clinch a spot in the Fall Classic? They will turn to Jonathan Sanchez to try in Game 6 against Roy Oswalt.

Courtesy of FanGraphs, here’s the win probability chart from last night’s NLCS Game 4:

Can you say roller coaster of a game?

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