Well, I can’t say I saw that one coming.
In a game that was billed as another postseason pitcher’s duel — both Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee weren’t particularly sharp. The Giants jumped on Cliff Lee for 6 earned runs in just 4.2 innings pitched. Lee ended up with 7 strikeouts to 1 walk on the evening, but Giants’ hitters Freddy Sanchez, Cody Ross, and Aubrey Huff chased him out of the game in the 5th inning.
The 5th inning would prove to be the Rangers’ downfall, as the team gave up 6 runs before it was all said and done. Andres Torres led off the inning with a double that got the rally started. Then, Freddy Sanchez roped a double deep into the left-center gap to score Torres and break the 2-2 tie. Posey struck out and Burrell followed Sanchez’s double with a rare walk from Lee. After Burrell’s walk, Cody Ross hit an RBI single to push the score 4-2 in favor of the Giants. Aubrey Huff chipped in with the 2nd RBI single of the inning to increase the Giants’ lead to 5-2.
After Huff’s single, the Rangers went to the bullpen, calling in Darren O’Day — who was fantastic in the regular season, 62 IP, 45 K, 12 BB — to pitch to Juan Uribe. And then, this happened. The Giants had trouble putting away the Rangers in the 9th — mostly thanks to Ramon Ramirez looking terrible — but taking Game One in San Francisco against Cliff Lee is hugely important.
Other thoughts from the game:
* Freddy Sanchez had a World Series debut to remember. Sanchez finished the night 4-5 with 3 doubles and 3 RBIs. His .364 WPA was best on the team (pitching included).
* Speaking of WPA, here are the Top 5 scores for the Giants: .364 (F. Sanchez), .076 (Torres), .067 (Huff), .051 (Casilla), and .038 (Renteria)
* Pat Burrell had a night he’d rather forget. He looked frustrated against Lee and ended up striking out 3 times.
* Before tonight, Cliff Lee had never given up more than 5 earned runs in a postseason start. He gave up 5 earned runs in Game Five of the 2009 World Series against the Yankees.
* I doubt we’ll see Vladimir Guerrero in RF tomorrow night. In the 8th he turned a routine single from Renteria into a triple and had trouble picking up Freddy Sanchez’s double in the same frame. I believe that Guerrero was charged with two errors in the inning. He looked like he had a hard time moving around and performing the most basic of defensive skills (ie: picking up baseballs with your hands).
* The bullpen was a mixed bag. Casilla, Romo, and Lopez all pitched fine. However, Ramirez and Affeldt did not look sharp. In a night when Brian Wilson shouldn’t have set foot on the pitching mound, he had to come in and clean up the late inning mess.
* Neither team really played clean defensive ball. The Giants were charged with two errors (Huff, Ishikawa) and the Rangers were charged with four (Young, Andrus, Guerrero x2). The Giants will have to play better defense if they want to hang with the Rangers. It’s not going to be often when the team will score 11 runs.
* Huff’s double in the 2nd wasn’t well struck, but it was his first extra-base hit in the playoffs. Prior to the game, Huff had 10 hits, all singles. That’s good for a slugging percentage of .256 entering tonight’s game.
Tonight’s game really underscores the unpredictability of baseball in the small sample size of one game. Almost anything can happen. For now, I’m glad what happened was a Giants win. Game Two starts tomorrow a 7:57 EST and features the match-up of Matt Cain vs. C.J. Wilson.