10/27/10 10:31 AM ET
Giants seek encore; Rangers eye answers
By Mike Bauman / MLB.com
Apart from fans of the Giants, much of the baseball world assumed that the Rangers would win Game 1. This was not a radical proposition. Cliff Lee was pitching and he was unbeaten in the postseason, and, lately, virtually untouchable in the postseason.
What happened Wednesday night was the opposite. Lee was atypically hittable, the Giants took full advantage, and it was San Francisco, with an 11-7 victory that took the 1-0 lead. The available scenarios that had the Rangers winning this Series were based on Texas being 2-0 in Lee's starts. Now we will all see if the Rangers have a plausible Plan B.
Game 2 Thursday is to be televised by FOX and Postseason.TV, with a starting time for the telecast of 7:30 p.m. ET. The Game 2 pitching matchup doesn't offer much solace for the Rangers. The Giants' Matt Cain has yet to give up an earned run in two postseason starts. The Rangers' C.J. Wilson, a 15-game winner in the regular season is no slouch, either. But the strength of the Giants' rotation will be on clear display in this Series and the Rangers' edge represented by Cliff Lee in the ace role has been nullified, at least for the moment.
How well can the Rangers bounce back from being beaten in Game 1, from having their ace beaten decisively? If you watched the Rangers in the American League Championship Series, you saw them rebound from a truly difficult Game 1 defeat with three straight victories over the Yankees. The difference here is that they won't have Lee going for them in Game 3.
"We don't need any pep talks," third baseman Michael Young said. "This is a confident, calm group. Like I said, [the Giants] played well tonight. Give them credit. They played really well. It's the World Series. Two good teams, going head-to-head."
"It's a first for a lot of us and different kind of atmosphere," Game 1 winning pitcher Tim Lincecum said. "But you try to use what you've been through these last couple series with us to help you through it.
"When you get here and you get to the playoffs, you start to realize that it's not so much about your stats or if you get a hit here, it's just who comes out on top at the end of the day."
Game 1 was far from a typical performance by Lee, or by the Rangers in general. They made four errors. Two of those came in right from Vladimir Guerrero, whose natural position is now designated hitter. But manager Ron Washington discounted the notion that World Series nerves had anything to do with the flurry of fielding miscues.
"Jitters didn't have anything to do with it," Washington said. "They put 11 runs on the board. They beat us. We'll get it back [Thursday]."
Neither of the Game 2 starters gave any evidence of being unduly worried about anything. On the issue of increased rest between starts -- treated, for instance, like a crisis by the Yankees in the ALCS -- Cain brushed it off as a mild inconvenience.
"It's been fine," he said Wednesday. "You know, you make a little bit of a new routine in between the starts. You try to stay on your same running program and if you have to add a bullpen here and there, you do what you have to do."
And Wilson suggested that the really strenuous, tension-producing portion of the postseason was past.
"This is the easy part," Wilson said. "All the pressure is gone now. We won the league championship. It's over. We beat the Yankees. Now it's just about playing good baseball, and that's what everybody is really focused on."
In the end, apart from Lee's ineffectiveness, Game 1 was all about the Giants taking advantage of every opening given to them. At some point, the quality of that performance had to be acknowledged, along with the fact that the Giants are up 1-0 in the Series on merit. Rangers' second baseman Ian Kinsler grasped that concept, saying:
"That's the beautiful thing about postseason. You've got good pitching, you've got good offense, you've got good defense. Both teams are able to do all three things really well, and tonight they did it better than us."
The Rangers were supposed to be leading this Series after Game 1. That didn't happen. Game 2 beckons with a chance for the Giants to take command, along with a chance for the Rangers to get even. What is expected to happen? So far, that sort of thing hasn't made any difference at all.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.