13 years. 4755 days. Same result. Once again, Edgar Renteria provided the game-winning in a World Series. It was the Florida Marlins in 1997. In 2010, it was the San Francisco Giants.
As social media enthusiast Amanda Rykoff said, this game was a rare example of a sequel surpassing the original. In a game one re-match, Tim Lincecum vs. Cliff Lee lived up to the hype and then some.
In the first game of the series, the dueling aces combined to go just 10.1 innings – allowing 10 earned runs on 16 hits along the way. On Monday evening, they combined for 15 innings while giving up nine hits, and just four earned – striking out 16 and walking two.
Coming off his worst postseason start ever, Cliff Lee was in control, and more importantly in command, for most of the night. Lee struggled to hit his spots in game one – often missing his target by 6-12 inches – but had much better command within the strike zone against the Giants this evening.
Tossing just 4.2 innings in the first game, Lee went seven strong in game five. He struck out six batters while walking none. Of the 95 pitches he threw, 69 of them were strikes (72.6%). The box score will show that Lee gave up six hits, but only one really matters. With two on in the seventh inning, Edgar Renteria smashed a 2-0 fastball over the wall in left-center field to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.
It would be more than enough for his (and almost Rays’) ace, Tim Lincecum.
Lee showed fantastic control, however, Lincecum was even better. He may have shown up to the ballpark looking clean in his suit and bowtie, but in the deciding game of the 2010 World Series, the Giants’ right-hander was downright filthy.
Like Lee, Lincecum did not have his best stuff in their first meeting. Although he emerged as the victor in that game, he allowed four runs on eight hits and failed to escape the sixth inning. The National League leader in strikeouts over the past three seasons, he only punched out three Rangers in the contest.
What Lincecum lacked in that meeting, he made up for in this one. The 26-year-old struck out 10 Texas hitters in eight innings. He surrendered just three hits and allowed just one earned run – a solo home run by Nelson Cruz. Matching his lefty counterpart, he threw over 70% of his pitches for strikes.
On the other hand, unlike Lee – who induced five whiffs – Lincecum got an amazing 16 swinging strikes in 101 pitches (16%). The league average for swinging strikes was 8.5%, and his personal average was around 11% – meaning he was ultra wavy in this one.
Before the series started, there was much talk about Lincecum’s dominating change-up. Meanwhile, it was his lesser used slider that was a major weapon on Monday. According to Brooksbaseball.net, he threw a ridiculous 41 sliders with 29 of them as strikes. Of his 16 swinging strikes, 10 came off the slider.
With Lincecum done after eight solid innings, the Giants handed the ball to their black-bearded closer, Brian Wilson in the ninth. Clinging to a two-run lead, the only thing(s) standing between Wilson and the first Giants’ championship since 1954 were: Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, and Nelson Cruz.
Three up. Three down. World Champions. 103 days until pitchers and catchers report.