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10/30/10 5:44 PM ET

Game 4 looms large for Giants, Rangers

ARLINGTON -- The difference between a World Series being 3-1 and 2-2 is roughly the difference between the Pacific Ocean and the puddle at the end of your driveway that forms after a brief shower.

For those of you who live in a desert, that means it's a big difference.

This is what the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants are contemplating as they prepare for Game 4 of the 2010 World Series. Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday night, with the FOX telecast to begin at 8 ET.

The Giants lead, 2-1, but the Rangers just won Game 3. Five previous times, the Giants have led a World Series, 2-1. In every case, the Game 4 result has matched the Series result; three losses and two victories for the Giants.

The rest of the historical story underscores the importance of Game 4. Of the 41 teams leading a World Series 2-1 who won Game 4 and took a 3-1 lead, 35 have gone on to win the Series. That includes each of the last two Series -- the Phillies in 2008 and the Yankees in 2009.

On the other hand, of the 40 teams leading 2-1 that have lost Game 4 to even the Series, 2-2, only 18 have gone on to win the Series. The last to do that was the Angels in 2002, against, of course, the Giants.

So if the Giants win Game 4, Series history says basically that six out of seven times they are going to win the Series. But if they lose Game 4 and drop back into a tie, after having led the Series, teams in that same situation have won the Series less than half the time. It is not an overstatement to consider the swing involved here as huge.

The Giants will send out a young lefty, Madison Bumgarner, to get them that 3-1 lead. The Rangers will start a young right-hander, Tommy Hunter, in an attempt to even the Series.

Barely 21, Bumgarner has belied his age with his performance in crucial situations. He is 1-0 with a 3.55 ERA in three appearances in this postseason, two of them starts.

"I've seen enough from Madison to know that he's not going to beat himself," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I mean, for 21 years old, it's impressive how he's carried himself."

Hunter had a very nice regular season for the Rangers -- 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA, but he has not been highly successful in the postseason -- 0-1, 6.14 in two starts. There had been speculation that if the Rangers had lost Game 3, they would have turned to Cliff Lee on short rest for Game 4.

Manager Ron Washington said that wasn't the case. "As far as I was concerned, Tommy Hunter always had the start," Washington said. "He will start [Sunday]."

Hunter gets the picture of how large this occasion is.

World Series
Game 4: Sunday, 8 p.m. ET on FOX
Game 4 looms large for Giants, Rangers
Game 4 starters: Bumgarner | Hunter
Why they will win Game 4: Giants | Rangers
Game 3 transcripts: Giants | Rangers
2010 World Series video

"It's pretty important," he said Saturday. "It's an important time of year. This is what you've played your whole life for. But inside the lines, nothing has changed. It's all outside the lines when things change. It's still a baseball game. The plate is still 60 feet, 6 inches away from the plate, basepath is 90 feet. Nothing changes. It's baseball. That's the best time of day for us. Once you get in between the lines."

The Giants have the comfort of the 2-1 lead.

"You know, it's nice to be in our position right now, but we said we have a lot of work ahead of us," Bochy said Saturday night. "We're playing a very good club and we didn't think this would be easy. They played very well tonight, and hopefully we'll get back on track here with the bats."

But the Rangers have the comfort of the most recent victory and the next two games coming at home.

"You know, the momentum, obviously we're still down one game, but it's shifted," center fielder Josh Hamilton said. "I mean, we're at home, we've got the fans behind us. We're right where we want to be."

So, we have two teams, both with reasons to believe in their Game 4 chances. History is a guide, not an absolute ruler in the Fall Classic. But history says the outcome will be pivotal. If the team in the Giants' situation wins Game 4, it wins the Series the vast majority of the time. If the team in the Rangers' situation wins Game 4, it wins the Series most of the time.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.