Posted on: November 1, 2010 10:30 pm
ARLINGTON, Texas -- As it turns out, a team from San Francisco is allowed to win the World Series.
And as it turns out, you can win a World Series with a team built almost entirely on pitching.
It can be done. The Giants just proved it.
And if you're asking how in the world they became champions with that lineup, you're asking the wrong question. They became champions because of that rotation.
They shut down the Rangers one more time Monday night in Game 5, with Tim Lincecum outdueling Cliff Lee in a 3-1 game. The Giants, as usual, won with just enough offense, with a three-run Edgar Renteria home run in the seventh inning breaking up a scoreless game.
They won the World Series, four games to one, and in two of those wins, the Rangers never scored. In the five games combined, the Rangers had just 12 runs, after scoring 59 in 11 games to eliminate the Rays and the Yankees.
Lincecum wasn't able to match rotation mates Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner by throwing the Giants' third shutout of the World Series, but he allowed just Nelson Cruz's solo home run in the seventh.
In their 15 postseason games, against the Braves, Phillies and Rangers, the Giants allowed just 41 runs, not even three a game on average. The starting rotation pitched a total of 97 2/3 innings in the postseason, allowing just 24 earned runs for a 2.21 ERA.
The bullpen was almost as good. Closer Brian Wilson didn't allow an earned run the entire postseason.
Because of the pitching, the Giants were able to win five postseason games where they scored three runs or fewer. They were able to win with a lineup that didn't come close to matching up in firepower with the one the Rangers put on the field each day.
In the clinching game, the Giants won with Cody Ross batting cleanup and Juan Uribe hitting fifth. Ross was a late-season waiver acquisition, and when the playoffs began he and Uribe hit near the bottom of the Giants order.
Doesn't matter. They won, as Giants teams hadn't been able to win in three previous World Series trips since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.
Giants fans remember Bobby Richardson's catch in 1962, and the earthquake that allowed the A's to use just two starting pitchers in 1989, and Game 6 against the Angels in 2002.
But now they'll also remember Lincecum and Cain, Bumgarner and Wilson, Renteria and Ross and Buster Posey.
They'll never forget the 2010 Giants, the team that proved it could be done.
Posted on: October 31, 2010 4:36 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2010 5:27 pm
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Are you tired of watching Pat Burrell strike out in the World Series?
Apparently, Giants manager Bruce Bochy is. Bochy benched Burrell for Game 4 on Sunday night, electing to start Nate Schierholtz in the outfield instead. Bochy also switched designated hitters from Game 3, picking Aubrey Huff (with Travis Ishikawa playing first base) over Pablo Sandoval.
Bochy said he plans to put Burrell back in the lineup for Game 5 Monday night, against Cliff Lee. Burrell struck out twice in two official at-bats against Lee in Game 1, but he also had his one impressive World Series at-bat, for a fifth-inning walk.
"This will give Pat a chance to work on things, and get his timing back," Bochy said.
Burrell helped the Giants get to the playoffs, after signing with San Francisco when he was released by the Rays, but in the postseason he has reverted to the form that cause the Rays to dump him in the first place. Burrell is 6-for-38 with 19 strikeouts since the playoffs began, and he was 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts in the first three games against the Rangers.
The weak-hitting Giants don't have all that many options. Schierholtz was just a .242 hitter this season, with no power. Ishikawa hit .266, but also with little power. But at least Schierholtz and Ishikawa are decent defensive players. In fact, Bochy has often used Schierholtz as a late-inning defensive replacement for Burrell, and Ishikawa as a late-inning replacement for Huff at first base.
"It's the back end of the game starting the game," Bochy said.
With no Burrell in the lineup, Bochy moved Cody Ross (his one truly hot hitter) up to fifth in the lineup. Earlier this postseason, Bochy had batted Ross eighth.
Posted on: October 30, 2010 9:51 pm
ARLINGTON, Texas -- This World Series looks a lot different under American League rules.
It sounds a lot different in Texas.
Or maybe it was just a lot different in Game 3 because Colby Lewis was on the mound for the Rangers.
Whatever the reason, we may now have ourselves a decent series, after Lewis and the Rangers recovered from their bad trip West and beat the Giants, 4-2, in Game 3 in Texas. The World Series stands at two games to one, still in the Giants' favor, but it looks a lot more competitive than it did when we left California.
Give credit to Lewis, the same guy who beat the Yankees twice in the AL Championship Series, including a 6-1 win in the Game 6 clincher. He's now 3-0 in four postseason starts, with a 1.71 ERA.
Lewis, who the Rangers brought back from Japan with a two-year, $5 million contract last winter, went 7 2/3 innings Saturday night, allowing solo home runs to Cody Ross and Andres Torres. He outpitched the Giants' Jonathan Sanchez, who didn't make it out of the fifth and gave up four runs.
Of course, under National League rules (which were used for the games in San Francisco), maybe Sanchez doesn't give up all those runs. Think about what happened in the second inning Saturday.
Sanchez allowed a leadoff double to Nelson Cruz, but he had two out with Cruz at third base. He walked eighth-place hitter Bengie Molina, which in an NL game would have brought up the pitcher and likely the third out.
In Game 3, with AL rules in effect, walking Molina brought up first baseman Mitch Moreland. And Moreland, after fouling off four straight two-strike pitches, rocketed a ball into the right-field seats for a three-run home run.
A Josh Hamilton home run made it 4-0 in the fifth, and then the Rangers had to survive a trip to their bullpen in the eighth and ninth. Darren O'Day, who served up Juan Uribe's home run in Game 1, retired Buster Posey with a runner on base and two out Saturday.
That brought Rangers closer Neftali Feliz into the World Series for the first time.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 11:35 pm
SAN FRANCISCO -- Believe it or not, there were three other times this season that Cliff Lee gave up seven or more runs.
Believe it or not, the three teams he did it against were the Padres, Orioles and Royals.
Hard to believe?
No more so than Wednesday's Game 1 of the World Series, when the Rangers handed Lee an early two-run lead and then watched him give up seven runs to the offensively-challenged Giants, handing San Francisco an 11-7 win.
So the most successful postseason pitcher we've ever seen just got destroyed by one of the weakest World Series lineups we've ever seen?
Yeah, that's exactly what happened in Game 1. Believe it or not.
In his first eight postseason starts, Lee never lost. Not only that, but he never gave up anything bigger than a one-run lead.
In their first 10 games this postseason, the Giants only once scored more than four runs. In fact, even going back to the regular season, the Giants topped four runs just once in their last 17 games.
And they pounded Cliff Lee.
They knocked him out in the fifth inning -- first time that's ever happened to him in a postseason game, and first time it's happened to him in any start since the end of August.
They spotted him the two early runs, tied the game in the third with the help of a Michael Young error, then took control with a six-run fifth. Lee left trailing 5-2 with two out and two runners on base. Darren O'Day gave up a three-run home run to Juan Uribe, and that was that.
Lee gave up eight hits, and five of them went for extra bases. He gave up three doubles to Freddy Sanchez.
Then again, maybe we shouldn't be surprised. When Lee faced the Padres back in May, he gave up three doubles to Adrian Gonzalez and another three to Nick Hundley.
Maybe there's something about the National League West. Maybe there's something about offensively-challenged NL West teams.
All we know for sure is that what happened Wednesday night wasn't what any of us expected to see.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 10:52 pm
SAN FRANCISCO -- You think of Dave Righetti as a Yankee.
Or maybe you think of Dave Righetti as a Giant, or at least as the Giants pitching coach for the last several years.
You probably don't think of Dave Righetti as a Ranger.
But he does.
"When I came up with the Rangers, it was a pitcher-dominated organization, and we all got traded. Lenny Barker, me, Danny Darwin, Gene Nelson, [Ron] Darling, [Walt] Terrell, Eddie Lynch. We all made it to the big leagues. Most of us got traded. We were loaded. To see that break up in the next couple of years was really heart-breaking."
Posted on: October 26, 2010 10:45 pm
So yes, when the Rangers open the first World Series they've ever played on Wednesday night at AT&T Park, you can bet Andrus will be looking to get on base -- and then steal second.
Already, he's been watching video of the Giants pitchers. Already, he sees opportunity.
"They look like they don't really pay attention to most of the runners," Andrus said Tuesday.
Sure enough, so far in the postseason the Giants have allowed seven stolen bases in eight attempts. The only team that has allowed more steals this postseason is the Yankees, and of course most of those were by the Rangers.
Someone then asked Andrus if there's any catcher he's scared to run against.
"Yeah, and thank God he's not here," Andrus said. "Joe Mauer. I have like 10 attempts against him, and only a couple were successful."
He wants the Giants to think he's going to run.
"I want them more worried about me than the hitters," he said.
Posted on: October 26, 2010 10:34 pm
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants thought their pitchers didn't get enough credit for stopping the Phillies in the NL Championship Series. They thought too many people blamed the Phillies hitters for not producing, rather than credit the Giants pitchers for stopping them
Posted on: October 26, 2010 10:22 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2010 10:26 pm
SAN FRANCISCO -- It was late June, and the Mets were playing the Marlins in Puerto Rico.
And yes, believe it or not, this story relates to the Giants-Rangers World Series that begins Wednesday night.
Cody Ross was there that night. Jeff Francoeur, too.
"We stayed up playing blackjack in the casino, until 5 in the morning," Francoeur said Tuesday at AT&T Park. "We talk about it now that it was our lucky night."
Two months later, the Giants would claim Ross on waivers from the Marlins. A week after that, the Mets would trade Francoeur to the Rangers.
And now they meet again, in the World Series.
"I was really happy for [Ross]," Francoeur said. "Florida kind of gave him the raw end of the deal. Obviously, I don't want him to win the World Series, but if we're up 8-0 and he hits a solo home run, I'd be OK with that."
With the Giants starting right-handers in the first two games of the World Series, Francoeur will begin the series on the Rangers bench. He's expected to start Games 3 and 4, when the Giants go with left-handers Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner.
And, perhaps, the bearded Francoeur will even get a matchup with Brian Wilson, the Giants' bearded closer.
"He's got thickness," Francoeur said, comparing the beards. "But I can say that mine's natural."