Monday, November 1, 2010
What to watch in World Series Game 5
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers face the Giants tonight in an elimination game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. A few things to keep an eye on:
* Cliff Lee. Is this his final start in a Rangers uniform? Maybe. I still think this club has a chance to keep him and the ownership group has made it clear they intend to fight hard to do so. But he lives for these types of moments. He pitched in a World Series elimination game in 2009 for the Phillies and got the win to extend the series. That's his mission again tonight. Lee struggled in Game 1 in San Francisco with seven runs allowed (six earned) in 4 2/3 innings. I think the chances he does that again are slim with his postseason pedigree.
* Early runs. The Rangers didn't score any runs in Game 4 and could certainly use that boost with Lee on the mound tonight. We've seen in this series what early home runs have done for the two teams. Mitch Moreland's three-run shot in the second inning of Game 3 got the crowd buzzing and allowed Colby Lewis to be even more aggressive. Aubrey Huff's two-run homer in Game 4 did the same thing for San Francisco.
* Baserunning. San Francisco has done a nice job of containing the Rangers' run game. Buster Posey is good at throwing out runners and the Giants pitchers have held runners on pretty well. Texas needs to find a way to get some baserunners with speed and see if they can't run. But they have to do it smartly, too (see the fourth inning of Game 4).
* Crowd. The 51,000-plus didn't have much to cheer about in Game 4. And they left the stadium a little dejected. But this is the final home game for the Rangers in 2010. No matter what happens, this should be about celebrating the best team in Rangers history. Texas needs a juiced up crowd tonight to help them get going and give them a confidence boost. That's on the fans. I think they'll be excited and ready.
* Vladimir Guerrero. He had one of his worst games of the season in Game 4, striking out three times in the same game for the first time all season (and the first time in his postseason career). The Rangers need more from their cleanup man. Let's see if he breaks out tonight.
* Middle of the order. Guerrero isn't the only one guilty of struggling at the plate in the middle of that Rangers lineup. Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton haven't been hitting well either. If the Rangers are to send this series back to San Francisco with an opportunity to come back and win the series, they need that vaunted middle of the order to play like it did against the Yankees. It's not too late for them to do so.
* Tim Lincecum. While you'd expect a better showing out of Lee, the same could be said for the Giants ace. He did the job in Game 1, but he wasn't dominant. Could we see a classic pitchers' duel tonight?
* Neftali Feliz. He saved Game 3, his first save of the World Series. That should give him some confidence for the rest of the series. You would expect Game 5 to be close. That means Feliz would pitch in a tie or close game late. He blew 98 mph fastballs by the Giants in Game 3.