ARLINGTON, Texas -- San Francisco wasn't just a bad road team this season in interleague play. The Giants were dreadful. I'm talking road games, people. Interleague road games. Over the course of a season that's a small issue for a team, nothing of importance really -- unless that team makes it to the World Series.
And then it's enormous.
We saw it Saturday night in Game 3 of the World Series. We'll see it again, I'm guessing, in Games 4 and 5 as well. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. For now we have Game 3 to digest, and for San Francisco it went down like almost every other road game has gone down against the American League:
The Giants lost 4-2 to the Rangers, adding to their bleak outlook for Games 4 and 5. They've been terrible on the road against American League teams, going 1-6 this season, and in those six losses the Giants have scored five runs.
They've been shut out three times in those six games, a tendency that could be the tipping point in an otherwise even World Series. The Rangers are not dramatically better than the Giants overall, and in fact, they might not be better at all. Except for one thing:
When Texas adds the designated hitter, it gets better.
When the Giants add the DH, they get worse.
It happens sometimes -- but not every time -- in the World Series. The NL team has to come up with a DH when it plays in the AL city, and some teams come up with better DH's than others. The Phillies, for example, used players born to play DH, Raul Ibanez and Matt Stairs, in 2009. In 2007, the Rockies used pedestrian Ryan Spilborghs, and they were swept by Boston. In 2006, the Cardinals had masher Chris Duncan at DH, and the Cards won the World Series.
San Francisco is using Pablo Sandoval -- and this is a guy who hit only .208 on the road this season, a 122-point swing from his .330 home average, the biggest home-road swing in baseball. He simply can't hit on the road, yet he was the Giants' designated hitter in Game 3, when he went 0 for 3 with a strikeout and double-play grounder.
Don't be surprised if it's Sandoval as the DH again Sunday, not because he's due, but because Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn't have many other options. Texas started right-hander Colby Lewis in Game 3, and righty Tommy Hunter is scheduled to go in Game 4. Unless Bochy wants to buck baseball tradition and play righty-hitting Aaron Rowand at DH on Sunday, it'll be Sandoval ... or someone even worse.
I mean, why bother? Just let the pitcher hit.
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Meanwhile, the Rangers added Vladimir Guerrero to their lineup Saturday. He had 29 home runs and 115 RBI this season. He hit .300, and he slugged .496.
Sandoval hit .268, slugged .409 and managed just 13 home runs and 63 RBI.
Guerrero vs. Sandoval? Not fair. Not fair at all. But I'm not bemoaning the system. It is what it is, and what it has been since the AL began using the DH in 1973. I'm not demanding a change to the system. I'm just telling you, the system hurts San Francisco worse than it hurts the typical NL World Series team, because San Francisco isn't the typical NL World Series team. It's not a typical World Series team at all. Clubs as offensively limited as San Francisco simply don't play deep into October, but the Giants overcame with insanely good pitching, plus the chemistry and intangibles that truly great -- if mysteriously great -- teams tend to have.
That chemistry and those intangibles go in the garbage can when the other team has a lineup so loaded that it gets a three-run home run from its No. 9 hitter, Mitch Moreland. He plays first base. Ever seen a first baseman hit ninth? Doesn't happen often, but that's Texas for you. And that's an American League lineup for you. Bochy knows exactly what's going on here, but he's powerless to do anything about it.
"It's a different league. That's the American League," Bochy said. "That's what you deal with, with a DH."
Not the Rangers. They didn't have to deal with anything of the sort on Saturday. They dealt with Sandoval, who is lousy on the road, is slumping of late (.244 in September and October) and doesn't even do his team the courtesy of making the pitcher work before being retired. Sandoval sees the third-fewest pitches per at-bat (3.42) in the National League.
And down there in the ninth hole, opposite the Rangers' Moreland, the Giants offered up Edgar Renteria, who went 0 for 3 with a strikeout Saturday. Yes, Renteria homered in Game 2 -- but that was a fluke. He slugged .374 this season. Edgar Renteria has less power than Joe Biden.
And Bruce Bochy, bless him, has no options at DH. None. Sandoval isn't an option -- he's a white flag. He batted eighth in Game 3, for crying out loud.
Bochy says he'll sleep on his DH options for Game 4. One of them includes starting Schierholtz in right, moving Cody Ross to left and putting Pat Burrell at DH. That would greatly improve the Giants' defense, but Burrell says he's not comfortable as the DH.
As it is, Burrell is as awkward as a giggly 15-year-old. In 38 postseason at-bats he has 19 strikeouts. He was 0 for 4 Saturday night with four whiffs.
Now batting at DH for the Giants ... Pat Burrell?
Sleep well, Bruce Bochy. Might want to try some NyQuil.