World Series Blog - Game 2: Giants 9, Rangers 0
SAN FRANCISCO -- SI's Joe Lemire provides ongoing commentary and analysis throughout tonight's World Series Game 2 between the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants have held serve by winning Games 1 and 2 of the World Series at home and in convincing, albeit unorthodox (for them), fashion.
San Francisco scored 30 runs in its first 10 playoff games; it has scored 20 runs in its past two World Series games.
Giants starter Matt Cain hasn't allowed an earned run in 21 1/3 innings. He has now thrown the third most innings in a single postseason without allowing an earned run. He is only exceeded by Christy Mathewson in 1905 and Walter Hoyt in 1921, each of whom threw 27 innings with a 0.00 ERA.
The Rangers' bullpen has been a major failing. They entered with an ERA of 4.36 in the playoffs, having blown two late-game leads. In Game 2 they set two records they'd rather not have: in the eighth inning, Derek Holland became the first pitcher in World Series history to throw 10 or more pitches and not throw more than one strike. Also, he and Mark Lewis walked four consecutive hitters, also a World Series first.
Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria hit only his second career postseason home run in 63 games. His three RBIs were a single-game postseason high.
It wasn't been all good news for the Giants tonight: Not one of their top four batters had a hit until catcher Buster Posey blooped a soft liner for a single with two outs in the eighth. Prior to that, the team's 1-4 hitters -- Andres Torres, Freddy Sanchez, Posey and Pat Burrell -- had gone a collective 0-for-13 with one walk.
The New York Times reported Thursday that Giants outfielder Jose Guillen was kept off San Francisco's postseason roster because he was linked to an investigation into human growth hormone shipments. It's a fascinating what-if question to wonder what would have happened had he played in the playoffs. His playing time likely would have come at the expense of at bats for Cody Ross, who has been the Giants' top hitter in October.
If you can recall the enthusiasm of the fan recognizing Enrico Palazzo in the first Naked Gun movie, that should have been the vigor in which Giants reliever Guillermo Mota was received as he entered the ninth of this inning. Mota has been on San Francisco's roster for all three rounds of the postseason, but his appearance in the ninth inning was his first. It seems to make all of the debates about whether Mota or Barry Zito should be the 25th man on the roster seem irrelevant.
And the game is officially out of hand, thanks to the Texas bullpen.
Derek Holland made the wrong kind of history for the Rangers in the eighth. Working in relief of Darren O'Day, Holland entered the game with two outs and a man on first and then threw 13 pitches -- and only one strike. His first 11 deliveries were all out of the strike zone and so was his 13th, as he walked three batters consecutively, leading to a Giants insurance run.
According to a search on baseball-reference.com, Holland is the first pitcher in postseason history to throw 10 or more pitches and throw no more than one strike.
Of course, Holland shouldn't feel too bad, as his successor on the mound, Mark Lowe, fared little better, walking the first batter he faced -- the fourth consecutive walk drawn by the Giants, a World Series record -- and then allowing a two-RBI single to Edgar Renteria.
Rangers manager Ron Washington has now gone to his bullpen nine times in this series and not yet summoned closer Neftali Feliz.
The loudest ovation of the game -- on a night when Lady Antebellum sang the national anthem and 49ers quarterback Joe Montana and Journey frontman Steve Perry were in the building -- went to San Francisco starter Matt Cain, who exited the ballgame with a 2-0 lead with two outs in the eighth.
He has now thrown 21 1/3 innings this posteason --all at home -- without allowing an earned run. Cain, a flyball pitcher, was notably better at home this year. In AT&T Park he was 8-4 with a 2.93 ERA and .208 average against; on the road he was 5-7 with a 3.35 ERA.
Also of note: Giants lefthanded specialist Javier Lopez got his first crack at Rangers MVP candidate Josh Hamilton -- and Lopez won, ending the inning and inducing a harmless flyout to centerfield. Lopez held Phillies' Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to a combined 1-for-10 with a double and four strikeouts but Hamilton was 1-for-3 with a walk off him in four prior meetings.
Nothing beats a little late-inning AFLAC: The Giants added an insurance run after Cody Ross worked a 10-pitch walk, after which Rangers starter C.J. Wilson exited the game, apparently because of a recurring blister on his pitching hand. Wilson exited after a visit from manager Ron Washington and the team trainer but walked off shaking his head, suggesting that he didn't want to leave and wanted to remain in the game.
Instead, reliever Darren Oliver entered the game, inducing a groundout from Aubrey Huff, which advanced Ross to second. Next up was righty Juan Uribe. Washington had a righthanded reliever ready in the bullpen, but it was Darren O'Day, the sidearmer whom Uribe homered off in Game 1. Washington kept Oliver in the game, and Uribe made Texas pay again, this time with an RBI single to make it a 2-0 game.
The matter-of-fact, generally stoic Matt Cain was asked on Wednesday how he'd be able to sleep before making his first career World Series start, he replied, "Close your eyes."
His Giants teammates alternately make that peace of mind easy and hard. The hard part is their lack of run support for him -- one run tonight and one run or fewer while he was on the mound in 12 of his 33 starts this season -- and the easy part is their defensive capabilities, at least late in the game. Nate Schierholtz continues to be Pat Burrell's tag-team partner in the outfield. As soon as the Giants have the lead and the game reaches the sixth or seventh inning (depending on when Burrell had his last at bat), manager Bruce Bochy pulls Burrell from left to put Schierholtz in right and push Cody Ross from right to left.
The second batter of the inning, Texas catcher Matt Treanor, sharply lined a ball into the triangle in right-centerfield, but Schierholtz tracked it down after a long run, one play after Ross ranged far to the leftfield foul line for a catch.
The slider is typically a pitch for a righthanded pitcher to get out righties and lefthanders to throw to lefties -- against hitters of the opposite side, the pitch breaks into the swing. But C. J. Wilson is using it expertly against righthanders too.
Facing righties Freddy Sanchez, Buster Posey and Pat Burrell in the sixth, Wilson threw sliders on half his pitches (9 out of 18). Posey was so fooled on a slider that his bat flew out of his hands an into the stands for a strikeout. Burrell grounded out to third on a slider.
Cody Ross is an honest guy, so he'll probably admit after the game what we all suspect: He got very luck on Josh Hamilton's single to rightfield. With Michael Young already on first base, Hamilton lined a ball just in front of Ross, who dove for the catch but failed to make the grab, but while he was practically lying prone, the ball skipped into his glove. To his credit, he recovered and quickly fired the ball into second base, holding Young there.
Giants starter Matt Cain threw a wild pitch, pushing Young and Hamilton both 90 feet closer to home, but a Nelson Cruz foul pop-up and an Ian Kinsler flyout to right preserved the shutout and the lead.
Cain has used 80 pitches to get through six innings -- nine of his outs, like the last two in the sixth, coming through the air -- and now hasn't allowed an earned run in 19 2/3 innings.
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