Blog Entry

First take: World Series matchup

Posted on: October 23, 2010 11:43 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:21 am

Game 1: Wednesday at San Francisco, 7:57 p.m.
Game 2: Thursday at San Francisco, 7:57 p.m.
Game 3: Saturday at Texas, 6:57 p.m.
Game 4: Sunday at Texas, 8:20 p.m.
*Game 5: November 1 at Texas, 7:57 p.m.
*Game 6: November 3 at San Francisco, 7:57 p.m.
*Game 7: November 4 at San Francisco, 7:57 p.m.
All times Eastern      * if necessary

For just the second time in the past 20 years, the World Series will be played entirely west of the Mississippi River. Here’s a quick reaction to the matchup between the Rangers and Giants in the 2010 World Series.

Josh Hamilton OFFENSE

For all the talk about how Texas has gotten here by abandoning its decades-old philosophy of bashing in favor of pitching and defense, this is still a very good offensive team. The Rangers led all of baseball in batting average (.276), were fifth in MLB in runs scored and finished in the Top 5 in the AL in OPS, home runs and stolen bases. The heart of the order has baseball’s batting (.359) and OPS (1.044) champion, Josh Hamilton, hitting third, followed by the rejuvenated Vladimir Guerrero (115 RBI) and Nelson Cruz, who might be in the conversation for MVP if he hadn’t battled injuries all season.

In the postseason, facing the best pitchers in the toughest situations, the Rangers have actually improved offensively, batting .281 with an OPS of .815. They outscored the Yankees in the ALCS by a 2-to-1 margin. Five of their regulars are batting over .300 in the playoffs.

Offense was San Francisco’s missing ingredient early in the year, but the Giants added enough along the way to get it done. Castoffs Pat Burrell and Cody Ross have been huge, coming through in the clutch repeatedly. Overall, the Giants ended up middle-of-the-pack offensively: Ninth in the NL in runs scored, eighth in OPS, seventh in batting average and sixth in home runs. First baseman Aubrey Huff led the Giants in every major offensive category, and Buster Posey’s arrival at catcher has boosted the heart of their lineup and made up somewhat for the collapse of Pablo Sandoval.

In the postseason, the Giants have gotten big hits when they needed them most, but they’ve batted just .231 overall and have six homers – one more than Nelson Cruz has by himself – and just two that didn’t come from Ross. San Francisco really needs Huff to step up.

EDGE: Rangers, by a significant margin. They’ve scored 5.36 runs per game in the postseason to San Francisco’s 3.00.


You might have heard a bit about the Rangers’ No. 1 starter, but in case you didn’t notice, Cliff Lee only pitched once in the six-game ALCS. The rotation MVP in that series was No. 3 starter Colby Lewis, who was pitching in Japan last year. He beat the Yankees twice and has a 1.45 ERA in three postseason starts. No. 2 starter C.J. Wilson had a good start in the first round and mixed results in the second – he was the victim of the Game 1 bullpen meltdown and then had a nightmarish Game 5. Likely Game 4 starter Tommy Hunter is the Rangers’ weak link.

Tim Lincecum Having Lee on the mound twice (maybe even three times) is huge, but considering he’s going to be opposing another world-beater, you can’t exactly chalk up those wins.

The Giants entered Saturday’s game with the lowest starters ERA in the postseason, just 1.93. Tim Lincecum is perfectly capable of going toe-to-toe with Lee, showing the ability to dominate in big games. Matt Cain has been stellar in two postseason starts, and has yet to allow his first earned run.  Jonathan Sanchez will go second or third, depending on what Bruce Bochy wants to do, and he showed Saturday that he’s capable of putting up a stinker. The Giants have won both games Madison Bumgarner has started.

Pitching is what has gotten the Giants to the Series, and Lincecum has a chance to set the tone on Wednesday in Game 1.

EDGE: Giants. If you figure Lee and Lincecum cancel each other out, it’s going to come down to multiple starts by the No. 2 and 3 guys. To this point, the Giants look better at those spots – though after Sanchez’s outing, not by much.


Though it hasn’t put its best foot forward at times in the postseason, the Texas bullpen has been a strength this season, posting the second-lowest ERA in the AL. Neftali Feliz had 40 regular-season saves, Darren Oliver has been amazing at age 40, and Darren O’Day has been an effective workhorse.

The Giants came into Saturday with the second-highest bullpen ERA this postseason (4.22), which is surprising considering how rock solid the bullpen was during the regular season, when they had the second-lowest relief ERA in the majors (2.99). But their seven scoreless innings in Game 6 show that this still has to be considered a shut-down bullpen. Brian Wilson has picked up five saves and a win in seven appearances while not allowing a run. Ramon Ramirez and Jeremy Affeldt have both struggled badly in the postseason.

EDGE: Giants. Over time, that bullpen has shown it can get the job done.


An improved defense has been an important factor for the Rangers’ ascension. They were mediocre in fielding percentage during the regular season but fifth in the AL in UZR. Shortstop Elvis Andrus is a plus, and the outfielders don’t make a lot of mistakes. At first base, the Rangers sacrificed defense by leaving Chris Davis off the roster in favor of Mitch Moreland and Jorge Cantu.

The Giants are one of the better defensive teams in the game, committing just 73 regular-season errors and tying for the lead in fielding percentage. But fielding percentage isn’t everything (some will tell you it’s hardly anything), and the Giants aren’t great in the range department. Sandoval, Burrell and Huff don’t get to a lot of balls others might, though all three were better than expected with the glove this year. Presumably Burrell will be the DH in games in Arlington, which will improve the defense.

EDGE: Giants, though the difference is unlikely to be what decides the series.

Bruce Bochy MANAGER

Ron Washington deserves a ton of credit for the Rangers being where they are. He is an infectious optimist and motivator who by all accounts did a lot to keep his crew loose during the ALCS. He badly mismanaged the bullpen during the Game 1 meltdown against the Yankees (maybe he just forgot Neftali Feliz was there?), but overall is a good in-game tactician. He’s let his team be extremely aggressive on the basepaths, which has led to some good things but also carries the potential to backfire at a critical time.

The unflappable Bochy has tinkered with his lineup a lot in the postseason, and sometimes the moves don’t seem to make a lot of sense, but they keep working. He’s always been a hunch guy who knows his ballclub. The big criticism of Bochy this season has been that he stuck with Sandoval and Aaron Rowand too long, but that’s pretty much irrelevant now.

EDGE: Giants, just because Bochy has four previous playoff runs under his belt, including a World Series, and this is Washington’s first rodeo.


* For the first time since Bud Selig uttered the words “this time it counts,” the National League will have home-field advantage in the World Series. But home field wasn’t a huge advantage for the Giants during the regular season, and five of the Rangers’ seven postseason wins have come on the road.

* The Giants have been living on the edge just about every night, while the Rangers have been involved in some blowouts. Does that mean the Giants are battle-tested, or just tired?

* Look for Texas catcher Bengie Molina to be a big storyline in the next few days -- the Giants traded him to the Rangers on July 1. Bizarre fact: He's going to get a World Series ring no matter what happens.

* The Rangers are making their first World Series appearance. Five other teams have done that in the past decade, and two have won.

Bottom line

The Giants look better on paper in most areas, but it already appears that the Rangers will be favored by the oddsmakers. The difference in the offense is huge -- if the Giants have to score five runs a game to win, it's going to be tough. But San Francisco's formidable pitching staff is capable of keeping the scoring low.

-- David Andriesen

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Since: Apr 22, 2007
Posted on: October 27, 2010 12:32 am

First take: World Series matchup

well, keep counting out the underdogs. The bookies love that. Underdogs my a**, Texas gonna feel like Tony Romo after this series. LOL
The Giants in 5

Since: Oct 30, 2007
Posted on: October 26, 2010 8:53 am

First take: World Series matchup

Vegas likes Texas also at -150...

Since: Oct 25, 2010
Posted on: October 26, 2010 2:55 am

First take: World Series matchup

And one more for no respect, W???!!!  If those Good pitchers find themselves with counts that favor fastballs, you will see why Texas has a reputation for crushing fastball pitchers.  Texas has faced some outstanding pitchers this year.  Sometimes they score early and often, somertimes their pretty good pitching keeps them in the game and then they demolish the bullpen, even some of the best closers in the business.  After all is said and done, it will be about who can score enough runs.  Texas pitching and their defense (and ya' their defense is that good) sum up to be pretty stingy in their own right.  They know how to manufacture runs and make productive outs.  They may be the fastest team the Giants have met.  We will see who is eating words soon enough. 

Since: Apr 22, 2007
Posted on: October 26, 2010 1:51 am

First take: World Series matchup

Bullsh!t, which is a word yall in Texas should know well. 
Giants in 5. The Giants win 2-3 run games cuz our pitching is THAT good. Yes, we'll mess with Texas, and if for no other reason than 88% of San Francisco would burn statues of W. in effigy for mucking up this country. Go GIANTS!!!

Since: Oct 25, 2010
Posted on: October 26, 2010 12:20 am

First take: World Series matchup

Wow, lack of respect, San Fransisco, really?  If this game goes to the team with less respect, San Fransisco is in trouble.  Texas was picked third out of four teams.  LAA was the premiere team and Seattle, with its pitching, was picked second.  All of the talking heads agree Texas can't win because it is too hot in August and September.  And they know Texas will never get good free agents because of the heat.  Year after year that is all we hear.  Texas is the poster child for whipping boy.
If it is on who you beat in the playoffs, I am affraid San Fransisco is in trouble again.  Tampa Bay had the best record in baseball and suppossedly really good pitching.  NYY had the best team money can buy, was the defending world champs (Philidelphia couldn't beat them last year with Cliff Lee).
As for pitching comparisons, NL pitching stats will look better than AL pitching stats, since one out every nine at bats is a pitcher.  Those pretty good pitching staffs of TB, NYY, LAA, Seattle, Oakland, and others in the AL are against lineups with a DH.
As far as playing without a DH (pitchers batting in a NL park) the Rangers are 8-1 this year.  As for playing with a DH (batting in an AL park) the Giants are 1-5 this year.
Throw all of that out.  I think it will be a good series because Texas pitching and San Fransisco's hitting are good enough.  What really matters is both teams have a keen desire for the title and both teams will put everything they have into each game.  Torture may be what we feel, but the simple competition at this level is what both teams aspire to and will bring out the very best in all of these players.  Ain't it great, this comparison garbage means nothing to them, they leave it all out there in the next 4,5,6, or 7 games.  Oh, and the Yankies and Phillies will only be spectators to the greatest baseball series this year.  Not the least satisfaction will come from the East Coast sports writers having to place accolades on a southwestern and West coast team.

Since: Oct 25, 2010
Posted on: October 25, 2010 10:43 pm

First take: World Series matchup

Gator Hater,

Good pitching (best in the league) always beats good hitting.  The reality check is that the Giants were predicted to finish fourth in their division, which they won.  They were expected to get trounced by the superior hitting of the Phillies, who were considered to be the team to beat in all of baseball.  The Giants took care of them in 6.  The Giants don't expect to rely on Cody Ross but they do expect guys like Buster, Aubrey, Burrell and Torres to hit a lot better than they did against the Phillies and to pick up the slack where Cody left off.  This series will be a lot closer then most people think and I won't be surprised by a Giants championship in 5 games but most likely 6.  Those on the east coast, along with the media don't have the privelege of watching west coast baseball.  The analysts were talking about the Phillies-Rangers matchup after Texas clinched even when the Giants were UP 3-2!  Keep giving the Giants no respect and we'll keep winning and showing all of the so called experts wrong. 

Sigiam (a lifelong Giants Fan)

Since: Dec 4, 2007
Posted on: October 25, 2010 8:18 pm

First take: World Series matchup

I think the Giants fans here need a slight reality check.  You do have a dominant pitching staff that few teams can match up with, however your offense is a collection on wanna-be's and never-been's.  Cody Ross was batting a robust .100 during the regular season against Phillies pitching and if you think he will continue to be the guy this series you have been smoking to much of that Humbolt grass.  You are about to face the best hitting team in baseball with a guy in Josh Hamilton who is as hot as they come right now.  If you think that you can continue to score 2 and 3 runs a game and win this series you are mistaken.  The Giants will come back down to Earth this series and remember that they are a team that had to win their last game of the season to get into the playoffs because they dropped the first two of that series to the Padres.  This series is over in 6 with the Rangers claiming their first World Series Title.

Since: Oct 25, 2010
Posted on: October 25, 2010 1:59 pm

First take: World Series matchup

All of these posts about the Rangers not facing pitching as tough as SF have emotional feelings but no rational clue as to what Texas faced this year.  The pitching in the AL West was outstanding this year, not to mention the probable Cy Young award reiciepnt.  Oakland and Seattle have terrific young starting pitchers and LA has some really good veterans.  Price and Sabathia were no slouches either.  One thing about Texas all year is they have been under-rated.  The only reason they get a favorite nod now is having defeated TB and NYY in the play-offs.
I think this will be a great series as long as SF pitching is as good as advertised.  They better stay out of situations where the batter knows a fastball is coming.  I will also note SF hitting is under-rated and most are right-handed (Texas has a lot of lefties).

Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: October 25, 2010 12:27 pm

First take: World Series matchup

The Phillies had the better offense too. How'd that work for them. The Giants may have an anemic offense, but when the need hits, they seem to get them. Although the mighty bats of the Rangers should be scary, they aren't. Good Pitching beats good hitting almost every time. The Giants anemic offense has proven that two series in a row in this post season already. The match ups of Lee vs Lincecum should be epic, much like Lincecum - Halliday. I'm not an American League fan, so I don't know enough about the other Ranger's pitchers, but I do know that the Giant's staff is second to none, and now without much bragging, the best still playing. The bull pen of the Giants has been up and down, but mostly up, as indicated in Saturday's 7 inning shut down of the defending National League Champs. I like the match up, but I would have loved to have had the rematch of the '62 series. Just as I'm sure the Ranger fans would much rather be playinig the Phils because of their reputation. You normally have to beat the best to be the best. Most talking heads had the Yanks and Phils in a rematch when the playoffs started. Now it's the underdogs fighting it out. I could care less who's watching, I'll be tuned in, and if lucky at at least one of the games. Go Giants!!!

Since: Jul 2, 2008
Posted on: October 25, 2010 2:56 am

First take: World Series matchup

they will DH Sandoval

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