Texas Rangers: Tim Lincecum

Rapid Reaction: Rangers 5, Giants 0

June, 10, 2012
How it happened: Alexi Ogando’s first start of the season lasted just three innings, and it wasn't because the Texas Rangers thought that three perfect innings would suffice. He left the game in the top of the fourth inning after hustling down the first-base line on a bunt single, straining his right groin.

Ogando’s bunt set up a bases loaded situation with one out for Ian Kinsler. Kinsler delivered a two-RBI double to left field for a 3-0 Rangers lead.

The Rangers enhanced their lead to 5-0 in the sixth when Josh Hamilton delivered a two-out, two-RBI double to right field that ended the afternoon for Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum. Hamilton’s major-league leading RBI total moved up to 61.

After Ogando’s perfect three, Robbie Ross pitched and the game remained perfect until an error by Kinsler with two outs in the fifth. The no-hitter stayed intact until one out in the sixth when Ross surrendered a double to Aubrey Huff. Ross pitched four scoreless relief innings.

Rangers manager Ron Washington reacts to Sunday's 5-0 victory over the Giants.

Listen Listen
Walking the walk: Lincecum entered the game ranked second in the National League with 35 walks. In the first inning with two outs, he walked the bases loaded. Mike Napoli grounded into a fielders’ choice to leave the bases loaded. Napoli entered this game batting .409 (9-for-22) on the trip. He is now 0-for-2 this season with the bases loaded and two outs.

Talking the talk: Lincecum also entered this start with opponents hitting .329 with runners in scoring position, the third highest average in Major League Baseball. The Rangers didn’t capitalize in the first, but they did in the third. One out after the fourth triple of the season for Elvis Andrus to Triples Alley at AT&T Park, Adrian Beltre collected his 37th RBI with a double to put the Rangers up, 1-0.

More RISP, more rewards: Kinsler’s bases-loaded double in the fourth inning makes him 2-for-8 with two doubles and four RBIs when the bases are loaded. Hamilton entered the game as a .353 hitter with runners in scoring position, and he capitalized in the sixth.

E-4: Kinsler made 11 errors in 2011 -- for the season. He already has eight this season, including two in this series and one Sunday. Kinsler committed three errors during the 10-game road trip.

For starters: Ogando made his first start in his 28th appearance. As an all-star starting pitcher last season, he was 13-8 with a 3.56 ERA in 29 starts. In 2012, he had not worked more than two innings in a relief outing, and his highest pitch count was 39. He matched that through three innings Sunday. His strained right groin will be re-evaluated Monday.

Right move: Rightfielder Nelson Cruz left Saturday’s game in the eighth because of a sore right Achilles, and he was not in the starting lineup Sunday. David Murphy made his second start of the season in right field. Cruz pinch-hit for Ross in the eighth inning, and he delivered a line-drive single to center field.

Centered: Cruz not being in the starting lineup also meant that Craig Gentry was in the starting lineup against a right-handed starting pitcher. Gentry had seven hits in this series, and he was 9-for-16 on the road trip.

First thought: Michael Young was not in the starting lineup, but he was available to pinch-hit. Mitch Moreland started at first base.

Road trippin’: The Rangers ended their 10-game road trip with a 4-6 record. They lost two of three in Anaheim and three of four in Oakland, but they won two of three against the Giants.

Lineups: Mike Napoli catching Alexi Ogando

June, 10, 2012
Alexi Ogando takes the mound for his first start of the season as the Texas Rangers take on Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants in the rubber match of their three-game series at AT&T Park.


Ian Kinsler, 2B
Elvis Andrus, SS
Josh Hamilton, LF
Adrian Beltre, 3B
David Murphy, RF
Mike Napoli, C
Mitch Moreland, 1B
Craig Gentry, CF
Alexi Ogando, P

Gregor Blanco, LF
Ryan Theriot, 2B
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Buster Posey, C
Angel Pagan, CF
Brandon Belt, 1B
Nate Schierholtz, RF
Brandon Crawford, SS
Tim Lincecum, P

Matchup: Alexi Ogando vs. Tim Lincecum

June, 10, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Texas Rangers will try again Sunday to get redemption for the 2010 World Series as they face off against the San Francisco Giants in the rubber match of this three-game series. The series finale will feature RHP Alexi Ogando vs. RHP Tim Lincecum. A quick look at the matchup:

Ogando (1-0, 2.27): The 28-year-old will make his first start of the season in place of Derek Holland, who landed on the disabled-list Thursday. … Ogando's last start was Sept. 24, 2011 vs. Seattle. … Holds a 0.57 ERA on the road this season in 15 2/3 innings of work. … He recorded a season-high four strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings in relief in Tuesday’s 6-3 win over Oakland. … Has never faced the Giants in the regular season but threw 3 2/3 innings of shutout baseball in his two World Series appearances in 2010.

Lincecum (2-6, 5.83): The 27-year-old is not having the kind of season he’s accustomed to. … The 2008 and 2009 NL Cy Young winner and four-time All-Star has not won a game since April 28. … Has recorded only two quality starts this year. … Giants are 2-10 in his 12 starts this season. … Opponents are hitting just .215 off him at home this year compared to .303 on the road. … Gave up five earned runs off 11 hits in 13 2/3 innings pitched in his two wins in the 2010 World Series.

Hitters: Current Rangers are 7-for-24 in the regular season against Lincecum. … Yorvit Torrealba is hitting .292 in 17 at-bats. … Current Giants are 4-for-11 off Ogando. … Left fielder Melky Cabrera is 4-for-9 with a double.

Up Next:

Tue. vs. Ariz.: RHP Colby Lewis (4-5, 3.38) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (5-5, 3.93), 7:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW
Wed. vs. Ariz.: LHP Matt Harrison (8-3, 3.87) vs. LHP Wade Miley (7-2, 2.53), 7:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/FSSW
Thu. vs. Ariz.: RHP Scott Feldman vs. RHP Daniel Hudson (2-1, 4.65), 7:05 p.m., ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1540 AM/ FSSW

More Series numbers: Rangers offense

November, 2, 2010
The folks over at ESPN Stats & Information passed along some interesting tidbits about the Rangers and the World Series, including some perspective on the rough offensive numbers. Here goes:

* Josh Hamilton had the second-lowest batting average by a batting champ in the World Series, hitting just .100. Bernie Williams of the Yankees was actually worse at .063 in 1998. The list:

Bernie Williams: .063 (1998)
Josh Hamilton: .100 (2010)
Bobby Avila: .133 (1954)
Chick Hafey: .167 (1931)
Jackie Robinson: .188 (1949)

* Texas, which led the major leagues with a .276 team batting average during the regular season, batted only .190 during the World Series. Among the 31 teams to play in the World Series after leading the majors in batting average that season, the only others that batted under .200 in the Fall Classic were the 1948 Indians (.199) and the 1995 Indians (.179). (Elias Sports Bureau)

* The Rangers had an 18-inning scoreless streak spanning Game Three to Game Five, after their longest such drought during the regular season was 15 innings. From 1969 through 1972 three teams had longer scoring droughts in the World Series than they had during that entire regular season: the 1969 Orioles, 1971 Orioles and 1972 Athletics. But since 1973 the only other team to do that was the 2001 Yankees. (Elias Sports Bureau)

* The Giants won both of the Tim Lincecum vs. Cliff Lee matchups in the 2010 World Series, taking Game One in San Francisco and Game Five in Arlington. The last nine times that the same starting pitchers opposed each other for a second time in a World Series, the team that won the first meeting also won the second.

Numbers: Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum

November, 2, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- ESPN Stats & Information provided some interesting numbers on how Tim Lincecum beat the Rangers and how the Giants did just enough against Cliff Lee in Game 5. Take a look:

* Since changing the grip on his slider in early September, the pitch has been Lincecum's new best friend. He's been relying on it more frequently with increased success and Game 5 was no different. He threw 26 sliders, second-most this season to only his Game 1 start, when he threw 35. Eighteen of the 26 sliders (12 for strikes) came early in the count, as Lincecum paired it with his fastball to get ahead. Overall, the Rangers swung at the pitch 14 times, missing on an incredible nine of those swings (64 pct, season avg 31 pct).

* For his out pitch, Lincecum went to his bread and butter: the changeup. Hitters were 0-for-10 against his change with two strikes, including eight of his 10 strikeouts, which tied a season high. He had outstanding command of the pitch as he got Rangers hitters to expand their strike zone all night. Seven of his eight strikeouts on the change came on pitches out of the zone, with six of those seven coming down in the zone.

* Lincecum's devastating off-speed stuff was so effective, thanks to, at least in part, an improved fastball he showed in Game 5. His fastball averaged 92 mph, only the third time since July 15 he's averaged 92 or higher. Of the 46 fastballs he threw, 29 were in the strike zone (63 pct), his best since September 18. Since his dominant start in Game 1 of the NLDS, opponents were hitting .440 against Lincecum's fastball. On Monday, showing improved velocity and command, hitters were just 1-for-8.

How the Giants beat Cliff Lee:

* Lee had better command than during his Game 1 start, throwing 65 percent of his pitches in the strike zone compared to 53 percent in Game 1. However, for all the quality strikes Lee’s flashed this season, the pitch that cost him Game 5 was just the opposite of that – a 2-0 cutter that was supposed to be on the outside corner that came back right over the heart of the plate. Edgar Renteria made him pay for it, sending the pitch over the left-center field fence. It was only the third homer all year by a right-handed hitter off Lee’s cutter – the first of which that was left over the middle of the plate.

* In the seventh, the inning in which the Giants broke through for three hits and three runs, they had success by being aggressive. Lee threw 20 pitches that inning and the Giants swung at 14 of them (70 pct), the second highest percentage of any inning in Game 5. Cody Ross and Juan Uribe, who had the two hits to set up the homer, were particularly hungry, swinging at eight of the nine pitches they saw, fouling off five before getting a fastball to hit.

Of all things, weak bats doom Rangers

November, 2, 2010
videoARLINGTON, Texas – As crazy as it sounded for an American League underdog and first-time World Series entrant, the Texas Rangers crashed the Fall Classic as the favorite to win it all.

With bats blazing after a demolition of the New York Yankees, the light-hitting San Francisco Giants from that mediocre other league figured to be a walk in Golden Gate Park.

Sure, the Giants had Tim Lincecum and the National League's most dominant staff across the board, but so what? The Rangers had Cliff Lee and eccentric C.J. Wilson and steady Colby Lewis. If they could hold their own on the mound, the team that carried the majors' best batting average into the postseason and had cranked nearly twice as many postseason homers as anyone else would deliver the franchise its first-ever world championship.

And then something happened to the Rangers’ vaunted offense that poured 38 runs on the Bronx Bombers.

“Their pitching happened,” Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said of the Giants’ tremendous pitching in the World Series. “Obviously, we pride ourselves on beating anyone offensively, but in this series we couldn’t do it.”

The Giants, hitting .231 entering the World Series, did. Edgar Renteria's three-run homer off Cliff Lee in the seventh inning of a scoreless game stunned the sellout crowd at Rangers Ballpark and all but ended Texas' hopes of taking the series back to the Bay. San Francisco went on to a 3-1 victory Monday night, taking the World Series, 4-1.

Michael Young’s .250 batting average in the five-game seriers tells the story. Not because it represents anything in particular, but because it serves as an eye-popping divider. Mitch Moreland, the nine-hole hitter who hit a team-best .462, is the lone Ranger to finish north of Young’s average.

[+] EnlargeJosh Hamilton
AP Photo/David J. PhillipAfter winning the ALCS MVP, Josh Hamilton was held to a .100 batting average in the World Series.
Everybody else finished well south. In fact, only Nelson Cruz hit .200, and he hit exactly that. Just get a glimpse of these averages: Elvis Andrus, .176; Vladimir Guerrero, .071; Josh Hamilton, .100; Kinsler, .188; Bengie Molina, .182; David Murphy, .143. It all adds up to .190 as a team, the third-lowest batting average in World Series history. In Games 4 and 5, the Rangers scratched out just three hits in each.

"I caught those guys. I know what they're capable doing. I just thought we could hit them," said Rangers catcher Bengie Molina, a San Francisco Giant the past 3 1/2 years until traded to Texas on July1. "I just thought that this group is a great group of guys that can hit and I thought they could hit them. But, like they say, pitching beats hitting, right?"

Consider this: Those light-hitting Giants matched the Rangers' 29 hits in the series with 29 runs.

“It’s tough you know?” Cruz said. “They got great pitching and when you got pitching the offense shuts down. It’s simple.”

Simple, yet still utterly confounding. The Rangers blew an opportunity in Game 1 to open a four- or five-run lead on Lincecum, but settled for a 2-0 lead after two innings. Lee couldn’t hold it and by the time the fifth inning was over, the Giants led, 8-2.

In Games 2 through 5, the Rangers’ offense managed five runs. They were shut out twice, once by Matt Cain, which is not a terrible crime since he finished the postseason without allowing a run. But insult came against 21-year-old lefty Madison Bumgarner and his poised Game 4 shutout.

Cruz’s solo home run in the seventh inning of Monday’s finale ended an 18-inning scoreless skid that went all the way back to the sixth inning of Game 3.

“We feel that we can hit anybody at any time,” Hamilton said. “Their pitchers threw well, I’ll give them credit, even though I don’t like to. They threw well, but we just weren’t swinging the bats well. But they beat us, fair and square.”

Hamilton had come off a poor ALDS to win the ALCS MVP a monster performance that led the Yankees to intentionally walk him three times in the Game 6 clincher. Later this month, he could very likely take home the AL MVP. But, in the World Series, he vanished, save for a solo shot in the Game 3 victory.

In Game 5, he didn’t get the ball out of the infield. Hamilton, who hit .359 in the regular season, tapped one to first in the first. After Young reached to lead off the fourth, Hamilton struck out swinging. He ended a 1-2-3 sixth inning with a dribbler to second and started the 1-2-3 silent ninth looking at Brian Wilson’s 95 mph fastball.

“I felt great. It would be different if I felt terrible, felt lost, didn’t know what I was doing up there. I felt good,” Hamilton said. “That’s just the way baseball works. Sometimes you feel good and you just don’t get hits. You hate for it to happen in the World Series, but it did. I’m not going to be disappointed or be upset about it because I didn’t have bad at-bats.”

Guerrero, the cleanup hitter who a week ago was voted the AL Comeback Player of the Year by his peers, produced almost nothing during the playoffs. Manager Ron Washington stuck by his prized free-agent pickup and refused to move him out of the four-hole in favor of Cruz, who swung perhaps the hottest bat of the playoffs, up until the World Series.

Guerrero produced one hit against the Giants and two RBIs. He struck out three times in Game 4, the first time he’d done that all season and the first time ever in his playoff career. In Game 5, he reached once on a fielder’s chance and was quietly retired three other times.

For one of the game’s great free swingers, the first World Series of his Hall of Fame-caliber career did not go as planned.

“I feel happy because in 14 years I haven’t been able to get to the World Series. But, of course, being my first World Series and waiting so long I was a little anxious when I was at the plate,” Guerrero said through a translator. “I think that is the reason why I couldn’t produce like I usually do during my career.”

In the end, great pitching beat good hitting. Good might be too complimentary to describe the Rangers’ plate performance.

“I can’t put my finger on one particular thing. Fact is we didn’t play how the Rangers play,” Hamilton said. “They’re pretty good, but baseball is baseball. Even the best pitcher can have a bad day or a pitcher that’s not so hot can I have great day. Say they had the best staff in the league, they still can be beat.

“I give them credit, they threw the ball well,” Hamilton continued. “I just don’t like giving pitchers a lot of credit. I just don’t.”

After these five games, the Rangers have little choice.

Rapid Reaction: Giants are champions

November, 1, 2010

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.

Nelson Cruz goes deep, cuts lead to 3-1

November, 1, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Nelson Cruz finally grooved one on Tim Lincecum, launching the one-hit pitch into the left-field bleachers to bring the Texas Rangers to within 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh.

Edgar Renteria gave the San Francisco Giants a 3-0 lead in the top half the inning when he took Cliff Lee deep. Before the seventh, neither pitcher had allowed a runner in scoring position.

Ian Kinsler followed with a walk as the Rangers' half-inning continues.

Edgar Renteria's 3-run homer puts Giants up

November, 1, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The San Francisco Giants just moved closer to capturing the franchise's first World Series in 56 years.

Edgar Renteria, with two out and runners on second and third drove Cliff Lee's bread-and-butter pitch, his cutter, into the left-center field bleachers, giving the Giants Tim Lincecum a 3-0 lead.

The inning started badly for Lee, who gave up a lead-off single to Cody Ross and then another to Juan Uribe. Aubrey Huff nailed his first career sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. But, Pat Burrell couldn't get the job done, striking out on the seventh pitch of the at-bat.

That brought up Renteria, who was batting .429 in the World Series entering Game 5. The blast was his second home run of the series.

Rangers can't do anything with single

November, 1, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- For the second time in three innings, the Texas Rangers put the lead-off man, but couldn't do anything with him. Mitch Moreland singled off Tim Lincecum to start the home half of the sixth inning, just the second hit given up by Lincecum.

But, it took him just four pitches to get out of the inning. Elvis Andrus flew the first pitch he saw to center field. Michael Young did the same thing. And Josh Hamilton continued to look lost at the plate, sending a dribbler to second for the easy out.

After six innings, Game 5 of the World Series, do-or-die for the Rangers is tied, 0-0. Cliff Lee returns to the mound to start the seventh having given up just three hits.

Neither pitcher has allowed a baserunner to reach scoring position.

Pitchers dominant in opening innings, 0-0

November, 1, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee cruised through the first two innings. Lincecum, the San Francisco Giants ace who won Game 1, needed just six pitches to plow through the 4-5-6 hitters in the Texas Rangers lineup in the second.

He's thrown just 19 pitches overall in retiring the side in order in both innings.

Lee has allowed just a two-out single to Buster Posey. The Rangers' ace threw 25 pitches in the first two innings.

Giants lineup: Hitless Pat Burrell is DH

November, 1, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Pat Burrell, who struck out four times in Game 3 and is hitless in the World Series (0-for-9), returns to the San Francisco Giants' lineup as the designated hitter for tonight's Game 5. After taking a seat to clear his head and work on his swing, Burrell will hit seventh against the Texas Rangers.

Game 4 hero Aubrey Huff, who hit a two-run homer in the second inning, drops from third to sixth in the order. Aaron Rowand will also make his first start of the World Series in center field, which moves Cody Ross to left field and Andres Torres to right field.

Here's the Giants' lineup:

RF Andres Torres (S)
2B Freddy Sanchez
C Buster Posey
LF Cody Ross
3B Juan Uribe
1B Aubrey Huff (L)
DH Pat Burrell
SS Edgar Renteria
CF Aaron Rowand
P Tim Lincecum (3-1, 2.79 ERA)

Game 1 eased Tim Lincecum's nerves

November, 1, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Because the Texas Rangers couldn't puncture San Francisco Giants ace Tim Lincecum when they had chances early in Game 1 the way the Giants got to Rangers ace Cliff Lee, it was the latter who absorbed more heat for not having his typically dominating stuff to start the World Series.

But, Lincecum remembers that he wasn't exactly spot-on in San Francisco's 11-7 win that veered far from the predicted pitchers' duel. Lee lasted just 4 2/3 innings and Lincecum wasn't far behind. He was gone after just 5 2/3. Lincecum couldn't get the shutdown inning completed after the Giants broke it open and Lincecum left having allowed four runs on eight hits, with three strikeouts and two walks.

On Sunday, Lee talked of redemption in today's Game 5 rematch against the youthful Lincecum. Not needing redemption, Lincecum spoke on another Lee theme: location, location, location.

"I just want to be more aggressive, of course," said Lincecum, who has a chance to pitch his team to a World Series title on Monday. "I just gave up a lot of hits that game, or at least more than I wanted to. But, I just [want to concentrate on] quality of strikes as opposed to just throwing strikes."

Lee entered the World Series with the overall experience edge over Lincecum as well as in the postseason. Lee was dominant with the Philadelphia Phillies a year ago and won the Phillies' only two World Series games against the New York Yankees.

Lincecum said the Game 1 experience will benefit him as he goes against the same Rangers' lineup with one exception: With the American League designated hitter rule in effect, Lee won't be in the batting order to double off him as he did in Game 1.

"Just the experience of being there is the big help," Lincecum said. "You know, just going through the lineup again knowing that you're pitching in another World Series game eases the tension there. I just try to approach it, just try to keep my nerves together and keep poised."

Foul: Tommy Hunter makes early exit

November, 1, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas – Unfortunately for young Texas Rangers starter Tommy Hunter, his most joyous moments this postseason amounted to twice dousing TBS sideline reporter Craig Sager with exploding beer.

Otherwise, it’s been a disappointing playoff run for the 24-year-old righty. In his third postseason start, this one being crucial Game 4 of the World Series on Sunday night, Hunter again didn’t pitch terribly, and he again left a close game. But, for the third time he failed to see the fifth inning and put back to work a sputtering bullpen.

Done in by 21 pesky San Francisco foul balls -- including 12 in the third inning alone -- that helped to drive up his pitch count, and by a first-pitch, 404-foot two-run homer by local product Aubrey Huff in the second inning, Hunter found himself again trying to explain how he felt good on the mound but couldn’t get the job done.

Huff’s homer stood as the Giants rode their young lefty, Madison Bumgarner, to a 4-0 victory. The Giants will now hand the ball to ace Tim Lincecum on Monday for the first of three elimination chances for the Giants. Of course, the Rangers will grasp to hope knowing they’ll have Cliff Lee going in his final start for the Rangers of 2010.

As for Hunter, he disappointingly ends his postseason with a 0-2 record and a 5.56 ERA. The two losses amount to half his total during the regular season when he won 13 of his 22 starts and never saw his ERA rise above 3.99

“It’s been tough when you don’t go out and do what you’re supposed to do. It’s tough,” Hunter said. “I felt pretty good tonight. There’s not too many things I would take back.”

Except for one: Huff’s towering home run into the right-field seats.

“He hit a pitch that didn’t do what it was supposed to do. It was a mistake,” Hunter said. “That’s what good hitters do. They hit mistakes.”

Hunter’s night might have turned out differently with just a smidgeon of help from his offense. But the Rangers’ mighty bats, bolstered by the designated hitter being in effect in their home ballpark, were befuddled by Bumgarner, who was nothing short of brilliant in his first World Series appearance.

Coming in, this matchup was billed as a toss-up: Two youthful arms with no postseason experience and nerves that might fray under pressure. Bumgarner watched fellow lefty Jonathan Sanchez get roughed up and leave early in the Rangers’ Game 3 win, but 21-year-old simply filed that away, came out and pitched the game of his brief big-league career.

He shut down Texas on just three hits, all singles. He struck out six and allowed one baserunner to reach scoring position.

The disparity in the two starters’ efficiency was drastic. Bumgarner threw 106 pitches and faced 27 batters over eight innings. Hunter, in just four innings, threw 83 pitches to 18 batters.

“He did great,” Hunter said of his counterpart. “He did what everybody’s supposed to do. He limited baserunners, he threw the ball well. Tip your cap. Probably the most potent lineup in baseball, he shut them down.”

Having to win three in a row, the Rangers will need their starters to go deep. Their bullpen situation is messy after Alexi Ogando exited the game during a second impressive inning of work with a left oblique strain. He will undergo exams Monday morning, but he is not expected to be available for Game 5 or beyond.

That removes the best right-handed arm outside of closer Neftali Feliz, who went a third World Series game Sunday without making an appearance. Trusted bullpen hands to get games to the ninth have dwindled to seemingly lefty Darren Oliver and, to an extent, lefty Derek Holland.

Washington’s confidence in Darren O'Day has to be somewhat shaken after he offered up a home run to Buster Posey in the eighth to make it 4-0. It was the second time in the series that O’Day has given up a blast to the first batter he’s faced. Juan Uribe tagged him for a three-run shot after O’Day relieved Lee in Game 1.

Of the seven relievers on the World Series roster, four own astronomical ERAs. O’Day and Kirkman are on the low end at 13.50 each. Holland is at 27.00, and Mark Lowe is at a mind-blowing 67.50. Ogando had yet to give up a run in 3 2/3 innings pitched, but he’s now out of service.

Oliver (3.38) and Feliz (0.00) are the only relievers that haven’t completely folded in pressure situations.

“I don’t think they’re going to need us [Monday],” O’Day said. “A guy like Cliff doesn’t have two bad games in a row. [The Giants] have got to go through him to win tomorrow, so maybe they won’t need us. That’d be nice.”

Down 3-1, Rangers express will to rally

October, 31, 2010
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The San Francisco Giants' terrific pitching has taken the Texas Rangers out of what they do best, and for a second time in four games in this World Series, the mighty Rangers lineup has been blanked.

The Rangers were beaten 4-0 in Sunday's Game 4 and have been outscored 26-11 by a supposedly weaker offensive club.

Trailing 3-1, the Rangers' season comes down to Monday's do-or-die Game 5 when both staff aces -- Texas' Cliff Lee and San Francisco's Tim Lincecum -- take the mound in a rematch of Game 1.

"We got the guy on the mound that we want on the mound and they also have the guy they want on the mound," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "This is it. You win and we can talk about Game 6. You lose and you go home, so it's pretty simple now."

Game 4's unexpected hero was Giants rookie lefty Madison Bumgarner, who joined Game 2 starter Matt Cain in shutting down the Rangers' offense and, consequently, their ability to harass on the base paths.

"We have another day to change that. We're still in the series," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "Come aggressive [Monday], get on base, score first and then we'll see what happens."

Rangers catcher Bengie Molina, who spent the past three-and-a-half years with the Giants before being traded to Texas on July 1, knows how tough Lincecum will be in Game 5. But, he said he has ultimate faith in the three pitchers set to go for Texas in Games 5, 6 and 7.

"If anybody here doesn't have the confidence that we can win, I don't think they should show up tomorrow. It's very simple," Molina said. "I have the confidence that we can win three games. Is it going to happen? We'll decide it on the field. But I have the confidence. We have Lee, we have C.J. [Wilson] and we have Colby [Lewis]. I don't know the future, but I tell you, I am very confident.

"If anybody here don't have that, they should probably stay home."



Yu Darvish
9 2.92 159 126
BAA. Beltre .324
HRA. Beltre 15
RBIA. Beltre 55
RA. Beltre 53
OPSA. Beltre .888
ERAY. Darvish 2.92
SOY. Darvish 159