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Sunday, October 31, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Texas bats quiet in loss

By Richard Durrett


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The San Francisco Giants shut out the Rangers for the second time in this World Series, 4-0, to take a 3-1 lead into Game 5 on Monday. Some quick thoughts (we'll have reaction from the Rangers clubhouse soon):

* Madison Bumgarner was the hero of the night. It was a sensational performance by the rookie as he went eight shutout innings and gave up just three hits. He pitched efficiently and got ahead. In fact, he used a similar strategy to what Colby Lewis did in Game 3: He got ahead in the count and stayed aggressive. Bumgarner threw first-pitch strikes to all but five of his 24 batters. He benefitted from good defense behind him, but he allowed the Rangers to put just one runner into scoring position. It's tough to believe that Bumgarner walked his first batter on four pitches. But he sure did settle down after that.

* Bumgarner's slider was an effective out pitch. Tommy Hunter didn't have an out pitch, which caused lots of foul balls with two strikes. He was unable to finish, helping drive up his pitch count.

* Hunter was taken out after four innings. He's now made three postseason starts and hasn't pitched past four innings. He had thrown 83 pitches and given up two runs on five hits. Long at-bats wore Hunter down and he wasn't particularly sharp, but he was able to keep his team in the game until  he left. Interestingly, he's exited in close games in all three playoff starts (Rangers were down 3-0 to the Rays in Game 4 and tied at 2 with the Yankees in Game 4, which the Rangers won).

* Josh Hamilton made a spectacular diving catch in shallow right-center to save a run and keep the game scoreless in the second inning. The catch came with runners on the corners and two outs.

* Umpire Jeff Kellogg missed a close call at first base in the second inning. He called Travis Ishikawa save on a double-play attempt and the replays showed Mitch Moreland had the ball in his glove and Ishikawa's foot was not yet on the bag (I had started to write the double play in my scorebook). Hunter then had to throw 11 more pitches than he should have, and Hamilton's catch kept a run from scoring. That had to make Kellogg feel better (once he sees the replay).

* Not to be outdone, Freddy Sanchez made a great defensive play to end the bottom of the second inning. Jeff Francoeur hit his hardest ball of the World Series and Sanchez jumped high in the air and snagged it. The Rangers had a runner on base with two outs at the time.

* Hunter pitched out of a jam in the first inning. Andres Torres hit an infield single (Ian Kinsler made a nice play to get to it and attempt the throw, but Mitch Moreland wasn't able to scoop the throw out of the dirt) and then stole second on a breaking pitch to Sanchez with no outs. But Sanchez grounded to third, not allowing Torres to move over. With one out, Hunter got Aubrey Huff to ground out to first and Buster Posey to ground out to short to end the frame.

* Elvis Andrus started the game with a four-pitch walk (maybe Bumgarner was nervous), but the Rangers couldn't do much after that. With a runner on first and one out, Hamilton hit a hard ball but right at second baseman Sanchez, who made a nice play on a high hop to start a double play to end the inning.

* Huff, who went to Brewer High School in Fort Worth, blasted a home run down the right-field line with a runner on to give the Giants an early 2-0 lead. It was estimated at 404 feet, which means it was well into the seats. It's just 349 feet to the wall down that line. Torres was on second when Huff hit the homer. He got there after his hard ground ball hit the first base bag and bounded down the line for a leadoff double.

* Hunter can thank Torres, Sanchez and Kellogg for driving up his pitch count. Torres and Sanchez combined to see 31 of Hunter's 83 pitches (37 percent of them). Kellogg added 11 to that count with the missed call at first.

* Rangers like to get aggressive on the bases, but were they over-aggressive in the fourth? With two outs and Hamilton at first base with the powerful Nelson Cruz up, Hamilton tried to steal second and was thrown out by catcher Posey. It's not easy to steal on Bumgarner or Posey, and I'm not sure doing it with two outs with Cruz up in a close game was the smartest play.

* Alexi Ogando came in to relieve Hunter and got the first five batters he faced. But after his second pitch to Juan Uribe, Ogando grabbed his left side. He was taken out with a strained left oblique muscle. Ogando has a 1.50 ERA this postseason and pitched well in the World Series, getting six strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Ogando can be replaced on the roster. Is Dustin Nippert the frontrunner for that spot? Or do they go with lefty Clay Rapada or Matt Harrison?

* Double plays ended two Ranger innings, and both were started by Sanchez at second base. Hamilton hit into one in the first and Andrus hit into one in the sixth. Andrus is not easy to double up, hitting into just six ground ball double plays in 2010.

* The Giants got an important insurance run in the seventh. Edgar Renteria was on the move at first base on an 0-1 count with two outs to Torres, who smacked the ball to the right-center gap. The ball nearly bounced and went over the wall, but didn't, allowing Renteria to score easily since he was running on the play. That made it 3-0 Giants.

* Darren O'Day came in to relieve Darren Oliver in the eighth and face Posey, whom O'Day struck out to end the eighth in Game 3. But in Game 4, Posey hit a 2-2 changeup that kept going to straightaway center and landed on Green's Hill. It was the second time in this series that O'Day gave up a homer to the first batter he faced.

* Holland came in for the first time since walking three straight batters in Game 2. He walked his fourth straight as Ishikawa went to first on a 3-2 pitch. But Holland settled down and struck out Renteria and got Nate Schierholtz and Torres to end the ninth inning.

* Closer Brian Wilson came in for the Giants and finished the game. It was not a save chance because the score was 4-0 heading into the ninth.

* Former presidents George W. Bush and his father, George H.W. Bush, came on the field in a golf cart (George W. Bush drove) and posed on the mound with Rangers president Nolan Ryan. The younger Bush then threw out the ceremonial first pitch with Ryan catching. Both Bushes received huge cheers from the sellout crowd. A handful of Giants stretching on the field as the cart came in also stopped to say hello.