Rangers get shellacked in Series debut
Lee struggles as Giants blow it open with six-run fifth inning
SAN FRANCISCO -- Shortstop Elvis Andrus got right to the point in the Rangers' clubhouse afterward."That's not what we expected," Andrus said. Few did, not with Cliff Lee on the mound and not with the way Texas has been playing in the postseason. But Lee's air of postseason invincibility disappeared on a cool October evening as the Rangers dropped Game 1 of the World Series with an 11-7 loss to the Giants at AT&T Park.
Lee had a 2-0 lead after two innings but couldn't get through five as his seven-game postseason winning streak came to a crashing halt. Instead, he allowed seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and a walk in just 4 2/3 innings."We felt good with a 2-0 lead, but, obviously, they are in the World Series for a reason," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "They beat the Phillies. It's not like when Cliff is on the mound, it's an automatic win. They played well tonight." "It was bad, but it's part of the game," outfielder Nelson Cruz said. "You're not going to be perfect every night. But there's no doubt we're going to bounce back." The Rangers also didn't distinguish themselves defensively, committing four errors in the field. Two were by Vladimir Guerrero in right field, but third baseman Michael Young committed his first error since Aug. 30 to lead off the bottom of the third, and it led the way to the Giants' first two runs. "We would have loved to have played a little cleaner game, but we'll be better tomorrow," Young said. "We'll come out with a better effort and hopefully get a win." Game 2 is scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CT at AT&T Park, with C.J. Wilson on the mound for the Rangers. Since the playoffs were expanded with the Wild Card in 1995, the team that has won the first game of the World Series has gone on to win the whole thing 12 out of 15 times. But the Rangers lost Game 1 of the American League Championship Series to the Yankees and still rallied to win in six games. "There are a lot of good things to take away tonight, but the bottom line is we lost," outfielder David Murphy said. "It happens. There is no reason to change our game or our mind-set. We've been winning all year and in the postseason. Nobody is panicking. Everybody knows we're fine. There's nothing to change for Game 2." Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum had his own troubles, allowing four runs in 5 2/3 innings. But the Giants made a six-run fifth inning stand up before 43,601 fans. It was the shortest postseason start for both starters, but it was far more unexpected from Lee. Lee entered the game 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight career playoff starts, including 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in three starts this postseason. His team had never lost a playoff game with Lee as its starting pitcher and he had allowed just 12 runs -- nine earned -- in 64 1/3 innings over eight previous outings.
GRABBING THE REINS
|Year||Game 1 winner||World Champions|
|2009||Phillies||Yankees in 6|
|2008||Phillies||Phillies in 5|
|2007||Red Sox||Red Sox in 4|
|2006||Cardinals||Cardinals in 5|
|2005||White Sox||White Sox in 4|
|2004||Red Sox||Red Sox in 4|
|2003||Marlins||Marlins in 6|
|2002||Giants||Angels in 7|
|2001||Diamondbacks||Diamondbacks in 7|
|2000||Yankees||Yankees in 5|
|1999||Yankees||Yankees in 4|
|1998||Yankees||Yankees in 4|
|1997||Marlins||Marlins in 7|
|1996||Braves||Yankees in 6|
|1995||Braves||Braves in 6|
But those numbers meant nothing to the Giants. Lee gave up eight hits, including three doubles by Freddy Sanchez, and Juan Uribe had a three-run homer off of Darren O'Day to finish off a six-run fifth inning that gave the Giants an 8-2 lead."Well, I saw the Giants work [Lee] pretty good," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You know, I think it was the third inning when he put the two runs up. He threw 32 pitches, just sort of ran out of gas there by the time we got to the fifth, and they put some good at-bats together, put some runs on the board, and we just couldn't recover." "It was a little bit of everything," Lee said. "I was up, I was down, I was in, I was out. They were swinging the bat well. That's in a nutshell what happened."
This is only the 16th time in 227 career starts -- regular and postseason -- that Lee has allowed at least seven runs in a start. It's only the eighth time he has done so while pitching fewer than five complete innings."Cliff was fine, they just had some good at-bats," Young said. "We have a ton of confidence in Lee, and we're looking forward to his next start. Cliff is as good as anybody at making adjustments." The Rangers had 11 hits, but most of the damage came from the bottom of the lineup. Young, Kinsler, Josh Hamilton, Guerrero and Cruz were a combined 3-for-21 in the middle of the order. "Overall, I thought we had pretty good at-bats," Young said. "There were some we'd like to have been better, but we have confidence we'll get better as we go forward." The Rangers had Lincecum in trouble early, scoring one in the first and second innings. But after a bizarre mental mistake by Lincecum on a rundown play, they had the bases loaded with one out in the first when Kinsler hit into an inning-ending double play. "When you have a guy like that on the ropes, you have to try to put him away," Washington said. "But you don't always put those kind of guys away." Instead, the Giants, taking advantage of some breaks, struck for two in the bottom of the third. Edgar Renteria led off with a hard grounder to Young's left that he couldn't hold. It went for an error. Lincecum popped up trying to bunt, but Lee then hit Andres Torres to put runners on first and second. Sanchez then doubled to left to drive home one run, and Buster Posey's line-drive single to left scored a second run. Sanchez held up to see if Andrus might catch the ball and didn't make it past third. That allowed Lee to keep the score tied by striking out Pat Burrell and Cody Ross. It didn't stay tied. Lincecum did his best work in the middle innings. At one point, he retired 13 of 14 batters he faced between a one-out double by Lee in the second and a two-out walk to Kinsler in the sixth. By that time, the Rangers were trailing, 8-2, after the Giants broke loose with six runs in the fifth. The rally started with a pair of one-out doubles by Torres and Sanchez. Lee struck out Posey, but he walked Burrell and Ross lined a single up the middle to give the Giants a 4-2 lead. Aubrey Huff followed with another single up the middle to bring home Burrell, and that was it for Lee. "You've got to execute pitches -- figure out a way to fight and scrap through it," Lee said. "They kept coming and put together several hits in a row. I threw a ton of pitches in the fifth inning. I have to a better job of damage control there. Seven at-bats, six runs ... that's unacceptable." O'Day took over, but Uribe hit his third pitch deep into the left-center-field bleachers for a three-run home run. That made it a walk and three straight two-out hits, allowing the Giants to take control. San Francisco was 9-for-17 with runners in scoring position on the night. "They had a bunch of two-out hits and RBIs that were huge," Andrus said. "We were expecting to win, but they played better than us. That's just the way it is." It just wasn't expected to begin this way.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.