World Series Game 5: Giants 3, Rangers 1  (Giants win WS 4-games-1)
Thanks to another stellar pitching performance by ace Tim Lincecum, the San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers 3-1 to win the series 4-games-to-1 for their first championship since arriving in the Bay Area. The Giants ace defeated Rangers ace Cliff Lee for the second time in the series and left no doubts about how much pitching dominated these playoffs.

It’s only fitting that in a year dubbed the “Year of the Pitcher” that the playoffs and, more importantly, the world series would be dominated by pitching.

In a game that was more of what people expected from the Game 1 Lee-Lincecum matchup, Lincecum fired 8.0 innings with just one run allowed on three hits while fanning 10. Lee matched Lincecum until the seventh inning when Edgar Renteria, who is developing a flair for the dramatic, ripped a three-run homer off Lee to give the Giants all the runs they would need to win it all. Cody Ross and Juan Uribe led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Aubrey Huff laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners over, and Lee then struck out Pat Burrell for two outs bringing Renteria to the plate. Renteria had the walk-off game-winning hit for the Marlins in the ’97 World Series and made the final out of the 2004 World Series for the Cardinals. This time he delivered again with a three-run blast into the Texas night to deep center field. It was all the Giants needed.

Nelson Cruz hit a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh, his sixth of the postseason, but that was all the Rangers would get off of Lincecum. Closer Brian Wilson came in for the ninth and shut down the Rangers middle of the order, striking out Josh Hamilton, getting Vlad to ground out and clinching the World Series for the Giants by striking out Cruz to end it.

Renteria was named series MVP thanks to a .412/.444/.765 slash line with two home runs, including the series-winning home run. You can definitely make a strong argument that Lincecum deserved the MVP award, but it really doesn’t matter because the Giants are champs and that’s all that matters to them and their fans.

World Series Game 4: Giants 4, Rangers 0
Giants rookie pitcher Madison Bumgarner threw a brilliant performance to blank the Rangers 4-0 in Game 4 to move the Giants to one game from their first championship since moving to San Francisco.

If the Rangers were to show any momentum from winning Game 3 in front of their home fans, Bumgarner put a stop to that early. The rookie southpaw fired 8.0 shutout innings, limiting Texas to just three hits, two walks while striking out six batters. Closer Brian Wilson finished the job with a perfect ninth inning to give the Giants a 3-games-to-1 lead. Mitch Moreland, Nelson Cruz and Michael Young were the only ones to record a hit for Texas, all three hits being lousy singles.

The Giants, on the other hand, churned out eight hits including two long balls. Aubrey Huff opened the scoring with a two-run blast in the top of the third inning. Torres doubled in Renteria in the seventh inning for one of his three hits on the night, and rookie phenom Buster Posey hit his first home run of the World Series with a solo shot to center in the eighth inning. San Francisco chased Rangers starter Tommy Hunter from the game after just 4.0 innings, five hits and two runs.

The Giants will attempt to capture their first championship since 1954 tonight with Tim Lincecum taking the mound in Game 5 against Texas ace Cliff Lee in a rematch of Game 1. Here’s hoping for a better pitching duel than what we saw in Game 1, which saw a total of 18 runs when it was all said and done.

 

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.

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.

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.