World Series Game 1: Giants bash Cliff Lee to beat Rangers
Thursday, October 28, 2010; 1:53 AM
SAN FRANCISCO - There were plenty of things the San Francisco Giants could have done Wednesday evening in their charming home city, besides come to AT&T Park and be led to slaughter at the hands of Cliff Lee in Game 1 of the World Series. It was a lovely night, overcast but mild, perfect for a stroll on Baker Beach beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Live music wafted from the bars of North Beach, the smell of anise from the restaurants of Chinatown.
But since the Giants were already in town, they figured they might as well show up, despite the fact all the evidence, and most of the national opinion, suggested they had a better chance of pushing a boulder up Nob Hill than of defeating the unbeatable Lee.
And once they showed up, the Giants figured they might as well stand in the batter's box and see how long they could survive. It was a bloodbath, to be sure, but one that turned expectation - and the entire World Series - on its head. The Giants crushed Lee, knocking the great lefty from the game in the fifth inning and surging to an 11-7 victory in front of 43,601 enraptured fans.
Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez, a former NL batting champ, doubled three times off Lee - including the one that put the Giants ahead for good during the pivotal fifth inning - equaling on his own the number of extra-base hits Lee had given up in this entire postseason to that point, spanning 24 innings.
"It's just baseball. That's the only thing you can say. It's a crazy game," Sanchez said. "One day you do great things, the next day you can't do anything
For Giants fans, the win confirmed, at least for the moment, the belief around these parts that theirs is a charmed and blessed cast of characters - castoffs and misfits, in the words of their manager - that somehow always finds a way to win, even against a pitcher who ranked, at least statistically, as the best October ace the game had seen since the days of Koufax and Gibson.
"We faced a great pitcher tonight, and he wasn't quite at the top of his game," said Giants Manager Bruce Bochy. "It was not quite the game we thought it would be."
For the Rangers, who made a season-high four errors (two by regular DH Vladimir Guerrero, pressed into duty as right fielder) and numerous mistakes on the base paths, the ugly loss leaves them in a perilous spot, as they must wait five days to get their ace back on the mound again, and hope he turns back into Cliff Lee.
"It's not acceptable to me," Lee said of his performance. "We scored seven runs. That should be enough to win the game."
Game 2 will be Thursday night, with San Francisco's Matt Cain facing Texas left-hander C.J. Wilson - who, like all the Rangers, probably never contemplated the possibility of trailing 1-0 in the series when he takes the mound.
A game billed as one of the great World Series pitching matchups in recent history - Lee and his Giants counterpart, Tim Lincecum, own three Cy Young Awards between them in the past two years - turned slugfest in the middle innings, as neither pitcher made it past the sixth, giving up a combined 12 runs (11 of them earned). The gaudy final score reflected bullpen meltdowns on both sides, with the Giants' victory not locked down until closer Brian Wilson got Ian Kinsler to fly to right to end the game.
Lee, who owned a spotless 7-0 postseason record and microscopic 1.26 ERA entering Wednesday, was peppered with jabs for four innings, then bashed beyond recognition during a remarkable fifth inning that saw the Giants score more runs - six - than they had in all nine innings in nine of their 10 previous games this postseason.