10/29/10 1:46 AM ET
Foggy offense has Rangers seeking answers
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
In Thursday's 9-0 loss in Game 2, which was a 2-0 game until the Giants took advantage of walk-prone pitching in a seven-run eighth inning, the top four spots in the order went 2-for-15. Texas produced at times in its 11-7 Game 1 loss, but the upper four spots were also 2-for-15.
"It's kind of strange and awkward and not to be expected," No. 3 hitter Josh Hamilton said. "I expected more out of us."
Nelson Cruz, who hit fifth Wednesday night and fourth Thursday and is 1-for-9, admitted he is "lost at the plate" and doesn't know what is going on with the team in general.
"We don't play the same at all ... I don't know," Cruz said. "I wish I could tell. I'd tell my team to change."
Leadoff man Elvis Andrus saw his 12-game postseason hitting streak come to a halt with an 0-for-3 Game 2 performance. He is 0-for-5 since leading off the Fall Classic with a single. Michael Young is 1-for-8 from the No. 2 spot, and Hamilton is 1-for-8. Vladimir Guerrero went 1-for-4 with two RBIs in Game 1, although one of the RBIs was a sacrifice fly when a bigger hit was needed. Cruz didn't pick up the slack Thursday.
The Rangers will need their big hitters to produce to avoid becoming 41st of 52 teams to lose the first two games of the World Series and go home without a title. How to fix the problem is elusive, but manager Ron Washington is certainly not heaping blame on hitters that helped bring his team to the Fall Classic.
"That, more or less, has to do with the pitching we've been facing," Washington said. "You know, those guys were good, especially [Matt] Cain tonight. We had some opportunities early in the ballgame to put some runs on the board, and we had the right people up there, and he made his pitches."
But the production outage can't be totally chalked up to unhittable pitching.
Cain extended his scoreless postseason run to 21 1/3 innings over three starts, but the Rangers were 0-for-7 against him and 0-for-9 overall with runners in scoring position. As for Game 1, Tim Lincecum pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and didn't dominate.
"You tip your hat -- they certainly threw the ball well, and you give them credit for that," Young said. "But we're a good offense. We expect to score no matter what."
Cruz's at-bat in the sixth, after Young and Hamilton had singled with one out, illustrates what happens when hitters are a click off kilter. A 1-1 fastball after some offspeed stuff looked on television like a devastating pitch. But Cruz, who popped up, said he figured what was coming and swung at a hittable pitch, but simply made poor contact.
"I knew they were going to come with a breaking pitch early, and I was expecting it," Cruz said. "Then I got the right pitch to hit."
Maybe a trip to Arlington for Game 3 on Saturday is all Cruz and the Rangers need.
"It's part of the game -- you lost it in one game and you can get it in one game," Cruz said. "I'm just going to keep battling."
The Giants aren't letting down their guard, however. In the eighth, with two out and Andrus at second, courtesy of a walk and a steal, manager Bruce Bochy went to left-hander Javier Lopez to face Hamilton.
"He just missed a couple balls tonight," Bochy said of Hamilton. "He got a base hit [earlier]. He's a great hitter. You've got to make your pitches, like against any good hitter, and he's certainly dangerous up there. We know it."
The Giants' bullpen has aided in the postseason success by matching up against their opponents' most dangerous hitters.
"When you go over this ballclub, they're the kind of guys that make stuff happen when they're on base," Lopez said. "Obviously, that's key. You want to keep the top part of the order off base. You saw in the last series when they were getting a couple guys on, next thing you know, a couple things are happening for them. We're trying to limit that the best we can."
The Rangers aren't used to limitations.
"We had some opportunities to go ahead, jump on them early," Hamilton said. "We didn't get it done. We had opportunities when it was 2-0 to at least score and get the game tied, and we didn't get it done.
"Obviously, you say if it's early in the season, we got to work on that. But we've just got to get it done."