Monday, November 1, 2010
Rapid Reaction: Giants are champions
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers lost Game 5 and the World Series by a score of 3-1. It was a great duel between Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum and in the end, Lincecum got the best of Lee. Some quick thoughts (plenty of reaction to come):
* As is the case in many classic pitching duels, one mistake can decide it. That was made by Lee in the seventh inning. A recap: Cody Ross hit a leadoff single and Juan Uribe, not bunting, hit a single up the middle. Both Ross and Uribe got on in two-strike counts (Uribe was 0-2). Aubrey Huff executed the first sacrifice bunt of his career to advance both runners. But Pat Burrell, who was 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts before that at-bat, struck out on a 3-2 pitch. But Lee then got behind Edgar Renteria 2-0 and threw him a fastball that got too much of the middle of the plate. Renteria drilled it just over the wall in left-center to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.
* Renteria had two three-RBI games in this World Series. He didn't have any in the regular season. And he was the hero for the Marlins in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series by hitting a single up the middle to win that championship for Florida.
* Lincecum's changeup was extremely effective. That was due to the great mixing of speeds from his fastball to that changeup. He was able to get it to move down and outside to lefties and varied the location with righties. He struck out David Murphy and Elvis Andrus with the pitch in the third inning. In fact, he struck out Murphy three times on the changeup.
* Lincecum then mixed fastballs and changeups to Josh Hamilton in the fourth with Michael Young at first and no one out and struck Hamilton out with a changeup in the dirt. His slider was also a solid pitch. He threw it on a 2-2 count to Nelson Cruz and got him chasing to end the Rangers' mini-threat in the fourth.
* Lee was able to change speeds and move pitches around with much better command Monday than he was in Game 1. The best example of that was his curveball, which he wasn't afraid to throw early in Game 5. He struggled with the curve in Game 1, but he had the pitch working on Monday. Lee also worked his changeup into his repertoire from the beginning.
* The plan by the Giants was clear: swing early in the count. San Francisco had two first-pitch hits, something they also did in Game 1. Prior to the World Series, Lee gave up only one first-pitch hit in the postseason. The Giants also had two outs in the first three innings on first pitches.
* Lee went 3-0 to Pat Burrell in the second inning before retiring him on a fly ball to left. It was the first time this postseason that Lee had a 3-0 count. He also went 3-0 on Andres Torres in the sixth, but got him to ground out.
* Lee showed off his glove work with a nice stab on Freddy Sanchez's liner up the middle in the third. Lee reached up as high as he could and caught the hard-hit ball to end the inning. It was a great reaction play. And for any of you wondering if Lee's back was OK, it certainly looked fine on that play.
* For a few seconds, the sellout crowd wondered if Buster Posey's fly ball was going to give the Giants the lead in the sixth. Posey hit the first pitch he saw from Lee -- a 92 mph fastball -- to deep right-center. But Cruz went back, jumped up just in front of the wall and made the catch. The play ended the inning and kept the game scoreless. It came after Cruz was unsuccessful on a diving attempt to get Sanchez's short fly ball to right.
* Mitch Moreland singled to lead off the seventh inning. But it took Lincecum four more pitches to end the frame. The Rangers tried a hit and run with Elvis Andrus up, hoping Andrus would hit the ball on the ground with the Giants looking for the bunt. Instead, he hit a fly ball to shallow center and Moreland couldn't advance. Young hit a first-pitch fly ball to center as well, and then Josh Hamilton grounded out to second on an 0-1 slider to end the threat, if you can call it that.
* Cruz ended the Rangers' season-high 18-inning scoreless streak with a 384-foot homer to left field with no one on in the seventh. The Rangers threatened to add more with Kinsler at first base and one out, but Murphy and Bengie Molina struck out.
* Neftali Feliz came on in the eighth in a 3-1 game, ending the night for Lee, who went seven innings and gave up three runs on six hits. Feliz pitched two scoreless innings, the first time he's been used in that manner all season.
* Nelson Cruz's homer was his sixth of the playoffs, breaking the Rangers record for most in a postseason (Juan Gonzalez and Josh Hamilton had five). Cruz tied Gonzalez for the most career postseason home runs in Rangers history.
* There was no Rangers Ballpark jet stream in Game 5. Unlike Game 4, where the wind helped balls to right field, there wasn't much aid for hitters going that way on Monday.
* The Giants defense is fun to watch. They were magnificant in Game 4 and continued that in Game 5. Uribe made a tough play look easy as he charged a slow grounder with speedy Ian Kinsler running and threw him out with a solid, off-balance throw.
* Charley Pride, a longtime Rangers fan and now part owner of the team, performed the National Anthem prior to Game 5. Former Ranger and Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
* Former president George W. Bush was back in attendance in his usual seat on the end of the owners' box on the first base side of home plate. Bush attended all three World Series games in Arlington and showed up for at least one home playoff game in the previous two series. The former general managing partner of the Rangers sat near Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan at various times during the series.
* One of the signs of the night from Rangers fans: "Cliff Lee struck out Chuck Norris on two pitches."
* The Rangers fans were really into it in Game 5. They were louder than the crowd in Game 4 (and had more to cheer about when it came to an exciting pitchers' duel) and seemed to understand that this was the last chance they'd get to show their appreciation for the Rangers this season. Few of them could have predicted the final home game of the season would be Game 5 of a World Series.