Despite the final score, the pitching duel that was expected in San Francisco as the Giants and the Texas Rangers squared off in the World Series came a day late. After 18 runs crossed home plate in the Tim Lincecum-Cliff Lee match-up, runs were at a premium early on in Thursday’s game as former Rangers’ closer C.J. Wilson squared off against Matt Cain of the Giants.
Unlike Wednesday’s contest, this game remained scoreless until the fifth inning. Once again, the fifth inning proved to be the go-ahead inning for San Francisco as the ageless wonder, Edgar Renteria broke a scoreless tie with a solo home run to left field. Renteria’s homer came a half-inning after Rangers’ second baseman Ian Kinsler narrowly missed a home run of his own. Kinsler hit deep flyball to center field that hit the top of the wall and bounced back in play for a double; he would be stranded.
While Cliff Lee has grabbed most of the postseason headlines – and deservedly so – with his minuscule ERA and astronomical strikeout rates, the Giants’ right-hander, Matt Cain has also been impressive.
Although he lacks the gaudy peripheral stats of Lee, Cain has not allowed an earned run in 21.1 innings this post season, and just one run overall. Part of that is picking a perfect time to get hot over a three-start stretch, but part of it is Cain’s pitching with runners on-base.
For example, after Renteria’s home run in the fifth inning, the Rangers put runners on second and third base with one out in the sixth inning. With momentum hanging in the balance, Cain pitched out of trouble by inducing a pop-up on the infield and then a flyout to right field. He stranded another one-out runner on second base in the eighth. In fact, opposing batters are 0-17 against him with runners in scoring position this postseason.
From there, the Giants’ bullpen shutdown the Texas lineup while the Giants’ lineup lit up the Rangers’ pen and put their team up 2-0.
After dropping to 0-11 all-time in San Francisco, Texas will host the Giants on Saturday as Colby Lewis attempts to keep the Rangers from going down 3-0. Lewis went 2-0 in the American League Championship Series against New York Yankees. The right-hander returned to the United States in 2010 after two seasons in Japan and brought back an above-average slider. He uses the slider especially against right-handed batters which should help against Pat Burrell, Buster Posey, Cody Ross, and Juan Uribe. That said, Lewis will have to locate well and not leave a slider over the plate as the ball; especially in home run happy Arlington.
As for the Giants, left-hander Jonathan Sanchez takes to the mound. Like David Price in the first round, Sanchez will have to use his platoon advantage to neutralize Josh Hamilton while carefully navigating through a right-handed heavy Rangers line-up that includes: Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, and Ian Kinsler.