10/24/10 3:15 AM ET
Lee, Lincecum fittingly kick off 2010 World Series
By Mike Bauman / MLB.com
Game 1 of the Fall Classic on Wednesday night at AT&T Park will fittingly offer Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants against Cliff Lee of the Texas Rangers. The FOX telecast will begin at 7:30 ET.
For the record, Lincecum is a two-time National League Cy Young Award winner and Lee is currently the dominant postseason pitcher, with a record of 7-0 and a 1.26 ERA over the last two postseasons.
Pitching becomes even more paramount every October, but this postseason has been a festival of superior pitching and splendid pitching matchups. Roy Halladay's no-hitter for the Phillies in the NL Division Series against the Reds set the appropriate tone.
Halladay lost against Lincecum in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series, but that decision was reversed in a Game 5 matchup. There was no variation in Lee's postseason results.
Lee was matched against Rays ace David Price in Game 1 of the American League Division Series and won. Lee was matched against Price again in the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS and won again. Then in Game 3 of the ALCS, Lee was matched against Andy Pettitte of the Yankees, the all-time leader in postseason victories with 19. Lee produced a postseason gem -- eight shutout innings, two hits, one walk and 13 strikeouts -- against baseball's leading offense. He would have gone in Game 7 of the ALCS, but the Rangers had the good sense to win in six, thus making Lee available for another Game 1 start.
It's like the three key elements of real estate -- location, location, location. Here in this postseason, the three key elements of baseball are pitching, pitching, pitching.
The Giants stopped a very good Phillies offense to get here. The Rangers stopped an even better Yankees offense to get here. San Francisco has a 2.47 ERA in this postseason. Texas has a 2.76 ERA.
So it is no surprise when the Game 1 focus has been primarily on the pitchers. Even Lee, when asked what is dangerous about the Giants, did not do the traditional "every Major Leaguer with a bat in his hands is dangerous," and instead honestly focused upon San Francisco's pitchers.
"I think they're dangerous because they've got really good pitching," Lee said. "I mean, when you've got Lincecum and Matt Cain and the way [Jonathan] Sanchez has been pitching and then their bullpen, you're limited to the runs you can give up, because they're not going to give up many runs. Because of that, they've won a lot of really close games.
"Yeah, you've got to give credit to their hitters for scoring those runs and Cody Ross, especially the way he's been swinging it, but I think you can give more credit ... to the pitching. I mean, they're the ones that are out there pitching in those one run games. That's tough to do over and over, and they did a lot of that this postseason, and rightfully so. They've got some really good arms over there."
For Lincecum, this is another opportunity to be savored. He is one of the major reasons the Giants find themselves here, part of a tremendous, homegrown Giants rotation.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing," Linceum said Tuesday. "Prior to this year, I didn't know if we'd ever get here or what was going to happen or how far we'd get, but we got the right tools and brought the right people in at the right time, and we're here now."
What will be different about this World Series Game 1? The climate will be different for the Rangers. Little more than one month ago, they were still playing games during which the heat index exceeded 100 degrees. They will be unaccustomed to the evening chill on the shores of San Francisco Bay, although the early start times will ameliorate that to some extent.
In general, Rangers Ballpark is thought of as distinctly hitter-friendly, while AT&T Park is considered more of a pal to pitchers. There are dramatic differences in the two parks, but Rangers starter C.J. Wilson said this would not be a big deal.
"It's not like they have a fire pit with a lion that jumps out and eats the outfielders," Wilson noted with a smile.
No, there will be no extraneous points of emphasis in this one. Game 1 of the World Series will have the focus right where it ought to be for a game of this significance -- on the starting pitchers. Lincecum and Lee, two of the game's best, are going. The Year of the Pitcher has a maximum of seven games left, and this is exactly how it should conclude.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.