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Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Giants find easiest way to win: Play better


Did Bruce Bochy out-manage Ron Washington in Game 1?

Not really. Cliff Lee gave up seven runs, and there wasn't any obvious point at which Washington should have removed Lee before most of the damage was done. With any other pitcher, maybe? But Lee has obviously earned the benefit of the doubt, and the fifth inning is pretty early to go to the bullpen anyway.

Cliff Lee, Darren O'day
Darren O'Day, front, and Cliff Lee sit in the dugout following a fifth inning in which they allowed the Giants to score six runs.
Washington's reliever of choice, Darren O'Day, didn't exactly help matters when he gave up a three-run homer to Juan Uribe. But O'Day's got a 1.94 ERA in the past two seasons, and in his career he's held right-handed hitters to a .207/.276/.278 line. Retiring righty hitters is what O'Day does ... except he didn't do it this time. In spades.

Did the Giants catch more than their fair share of breaks?

Not really. I've always been sort of intrigued by the role of "luck" in baseball games, and tonight I decided to count "breaks" ... whatever those are, and everyone's going to come up with a different definition. I think I'll leave this subject for another night, though. Because after the first couple of innings, there just weren't many easily identifiable breaks ... and 16 of the game's 18 runs were scored after the first couple of innings.

Earlier today, I suggested that the Giants could beat the Rangers in the World Series in a variety of ways. Bochy could out-manage Washington. The Giants could catch more breaks than the Rangers. Or -- and this is the most obvious way, and also perhaps the most difficult -- the Giants could actually outplay the Rangers.

Well, that's exactly what happened in Game 1. Sure, we can talk about all those strikeouts recorded by the Texas pitchers (12 for them, only five for San Francisco's). But this time out, the Giants were simply better than Cliff Lee (and Darren O'Day), particularly in the fifth inning when they scored six runs. They were also better than Lee in the third inning, when they scored just twice but forced Lee to throw 32 pitches.

Game 1 wasn't particularly complicated. Cliff Lee never could locate his curveball, and he missed his spots with his fastball -- something he almost never does -- too many times. When he did, the Giants usually took advantage.

For one night ... for one game ... for two innings ... the San Francisco Giants were better than Cliff Lee. And later, their bullpen was better than the Texas Rangers' bullpen.

The Giants just outplayed the Rangers. Sometimes, that's the easiest way to win.