World Series Game 3 blog
ARLINGTON, Texas -- SI's Joe Lemire provides ongoing commentary and analysis throughout tonight's World Series Game 3 between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers.
Instant analysis from the Rangers' 4-2 home win, cutting the Giants World Series lead to 2-1:
The change in location was apparent. In homer-happy Texas, all six runs were scored via the long ball. While the Giants only managed solo shots from Cody Ross and Andres Torres, the Rangers got a three-run blast from Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton.
San Francisco starter Jonathan Sanchez has now failed to get past the fifth in his last two starts after getting knocked out after 4 2/3 innings tonight, giving up all four runs.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy must be getting awfully nervous about his pitching plan in a possible Game 7. That would line up to be another Sanchez start, but the lefty has shown warning signs beyond the his final boxscore lines. It's how he's losing. He gave up two homers to lefty hitters after allowing just five to them all season, and his three walks were to nefarious freeswingers Bengie Molina (twice) and Vladimir Guerrero.
It's time Bochy also shook up his lineup a little. His No. 5 hitter, Pat Burrell, is now 0-for-9 with two walks and eight strikeouts, just five behind the World Series record of 13, set last by the Phillies' Ryan Howard. With Ross continued to hit well this month, he should slide up to fifth in the lineup, with Burrell falling at least one spot.
At long last, Neftali Feliz took the mound. The Rangers rookie is their closer and their best reliever, but manager Ron Washington had declined to use him in a non-save situation in Games 1 or 2. Even tonight, Feliz should have entered with two outs in the eighth to face the Giants' best hitter, Buster Posey, who represented the tying run as there was a man on base. Instead, Darren O'Day got him to ground out, but Feliz showed his dominant stuff in the ninth, striking out Pat Burrell and Juan Uribe while getting a flyout from Cody Ross.
Feliz threw 13 pitches in the ninth -- one slider and 12 fastballs, all between 96 and 99 miles per hour.
Giants reliever Ramon Ramirez settled down from his poor Game 1 appearance -- two runs in one-third of an inning -- to get two outs in the eighth. One runner reached, but on an Edgar Renteria error. Ramirez got Vladimir Guerrero to pop out and Ian Kinsler to strike out.
Ramirez is only in this situation because of his prior failure against AL teams. The Red Sox traded him for peanuts earlier in the year even though they were still in contention for a playoff spot.
The bat of Giants centerfielder Andres Torres continues to come alive, as shown by his solo home run off Colby Lewis. Torres,
San Francisco's breakout star, ranked 10th in the NL with 67 extra-base hits this year but slumped through the first seven games of the playoffs, batting just 3-for-26 and not starting the last game of that stretch.
Torres then finished the last three games of the NLCS on a tear -- 6-for-10 -- but each of his first nine playoff hits was a single. In the World Series, however, some of the pop is returning to the massive 35-inch, 33-ounce bat he swings. He had doubles in each of the first two games of the World Series and now this homer.
The Giants pitching and defense has again been good -- the difference in the game is just two bad Jonathan Sanchez pitches that led to home runs from Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton. Otherwise, Sanchez, Guillermo Mota and Jeremy Affeldt have induced double plays in each of the last three innings and have gotten 13-of-21 Texas outs on the ground. San Francisco's infielders have looked sharp turning them, especially the fifth-inning twin-killing which required Juan Uribe to field a tough hop at third and Freddy Sanchez make a difficult pivot throw.
Cody Ross' solo home run put the Giants broke up Colby Lewis' shutout in the battle of players with similarly sounding -- and similarly chanted -- first names.
But the real story of the inning was Pat Burrell's third strikeout of the game. The Giants left fielder is now 0-for-8 with two walks and seven strikeouts in the World Series. He is now only six strikeouts behind Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard's 13 strikeouts last year for the record of most in a single World Series.
History! For the first time, notorious freeswingers Jeff Francoeur, Vladimir Guerrero and Bengie Molina all walked in the same game. Molina has actually walked twice, while Guerrero drew a free pass in the fifth inning off Jonathan Sanchez and Francoeur earned his in the sixth off reliever Guillermo Mota.
Francoeur only walked once in his 15 games with Texas -- drawing a pass off Oakland's Dallas Braden in the eighth inning on Sept. 23 -- while Molina did not play and Guerrero did not walk.
This season, among players with at least 400 plate appearances, Guerrero and Francoeur ranked first and second in percentage of pitches swung at -- 60.6 and 60.4 percent, respectively -- while Molina was No. 27 at 51 percent. In 2009, however, Guerrero, Molina and Francoeur ranked first, second and fourth in the majors in swing percentage.
Colby Lewis continues to be a marksman. Consider:
He has thrown strikes on 54 of his 76 pitches, a rate of 71.1 percent.
He has started 17-of-21 batters with a first-pitch strike.
He has needed more than 14 pitches in an inning only once -- when he threw 20 in the first. Then again, four of his six swing-and-miss strikes were in the first.
In the last three innings, more than 84 percent of his pitches were strikes: 8-of 9-pitches were strikes (88.9 percent); 9-of-10 pitches were strikes (90 percent); 11-of-13 pitches were strikes (84.6 percent).
Perhaps Jonathan Sanchez should have stuck to the fastball. It was only a matter before Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton hit his first World Series home run, which he did in the fifth inning on a 2-1 slider, crushing it an estimated 426 feet to right-center field.
Considering Hamilton's two previous at bats, one should think Sanchez shouldn't have thrown only off-speed pitches. In the first inning, Hamilton chased a first-pitch fastball at the top of the strike zone and popped out. In the third inning, Sanchez threw fastball/changeup/slider/fastball/slider, getting Hamilton to ground out to second after he fouled off both fastballs.
In the fifth inning, however, Sanchez got gunshy and threw slider/change/change/slider, the last one landing beyond the fence for the Rangers' fourth run. Sanchez then walked Vladimir Guerrero on four pitches -- as sure a sign as any that a pitcher is rattled -- and his night was done, replaced by Guillermo Mota.