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Thursday, October 28, 2010
Updated: October 29, 10:52 AM ET
Rangers getting beaten in every way

By Gene Wojciechowski
ESPN.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- They've been beaten by the big ball. They've been beaten by bases on balls.

They've hit … and lost. They've barely hit … and lost.

Their bearded guy couldn't beat their long-haired dude. Their clean-shaven guy couldn't beat their clean-shaven guy.

Dissect it any way you want, but the Texas Rangers are in deep cow pie. The "T" on their ball caps stands for "Two Down." The San Francisco Giants have them in a World Series headlock, and the Rangers are starting to lose consciousness.

When the Series resumes Saturday evening deep in the heart of Texas, the hard-luck/no-luck Rangers have absolutely no choice but to win Game 3. Otherwise, they're deader than the Tony Romo-less Dallas Cowboys.

"We certainly don't feel like we're defeated," said Mr. Glass Half-Full, Rangers manager Ron Washington. "We're headed home. They took care of us in their ballpark. Now we're headed back to ours." And the Rangers will stay there if they don't win two of the next three games.

C.J. Wilson
C.J. Wilson was great, allowing only three hits and two earned runs in six innings.

There's a reason only 11 teams have ever recovered from a 2-0 Series deficit (last one: the 1996 New York Yankees), and exactly zero teams have overcome an 0-3 World Series hole. Why? Because the margin of error shrinks like 100 percent cotton in scalding water.

Right now, the Giants are the hot water. They humiliated the Rangers 9-0 on Thursday night at AT&T Park. Actually, the Rangers humiliated themselves.

And the night before that, San Francisco won 11-7. That's 20 runs in two games for the team that supposedly was going to have to grind to score.

I thought the Rangers were going to win this thing in seven. Now I'm beginning to wonder if the only way they get back to the Bay Area is for the Giants' championship parade.

"Now we're going in their ballpark, and I'm sure they're going to have a sense of confidence," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "There's a lot of baseball left, but it's good to win the first two. There's no getting around that."

There's no getting around that the Rangers are reeling. At times, you're not sure they could win a game at Williamsport.

Texas starter C.J. Wilson pitched well before a blister opened on the middle finger of his left hand. He left after walking Cody Ross to lead off the seventh inning. After that, it became a quiz show.

Question: How many Rangers relievers does it take to get one out?

Answer: Three.

For Wilson, it must have been like watching your own car wreck. When he left, the Rangers trailed 1-0. By the end of the seventh, it was 2-0. By the end of eighth, it was 9-0.

Relievers Derek Holland, Mark Lowe and Michael Kirkman were so off-the-charts awful that team president Nolan Ryan volunteered to pitch. He couldn't have done any worse than the six runs, three hits and four walks they gave up.

Derek Holland
It was a nightmarish outing for Derek Holland, who threw 13 pitches (only one for a strike) and walked the three batters he faced.

"I don't think we've caught any breaks yet," Washington said.

This is sort of true. For instance, Ian Kinsler hit a fifth-inning home run that somehow became a double when it defied the laws of physics and caromed back toward the field after hitting the top of the padded center-field fence.

"I thought it was a home run," said Giants starter Matt Cain, who has yet to allow an earned run in the postseason. Cain stranded Kinsler at second.

In the seventh, the Rangers were undone by a blister the size of an M&M.

In the eighth, Holland threw 11 consecutive balls. Eleven. How is that even possible?

Meanwhile, Bochy can't make a wrong decision. Almost everything he's done in these first two games has worked. Roster moves. Lineups. Defensive changes. Pitching changes. If I had a Lotto card, I'd ask Bochy to pick the numbers.

Washington says the Rangers are break-starved, but they're also hit-starved. They had four hits Thursday night -- Kinsler's double and three singles. It was only the sixth time this season the Rangers were shut out.

At some point Texas has to make its own breaks. If that means starting Cliff Lee in Game 4 on short rest, then do it. If it means tinkering with the lineup, consider it.

The Giants aren't going anywhere. They've beaten the Rangers' two best pitchers. They've scored those 20 runs. Maybe it's all those one-run games they've played, but the Giants don't seem the least bit intimidated by the moment.

The Rangers do. They played as if they were nervous, and it showed. Now their World Series future rests in the right hand of Colby Lewis, who faces the Giants' Jonathan Sanchez on Saturday.

"We certainly feel confident that when we get back to Texas we can turn this thing around," Washington said. "Just as they won two games in San Francisco, we can get back to Texas and do the same thing. And we expect to do that."

Expecting and doing are two different things. Right now, the Giants are the ones doing and the Rangers are the ones doing the watching.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.

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