By Michael Tapia
Baseball’s biggest show is set to start Wednesday night, the best of seven duel between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers will commence in the AT&T Park at 7:57 PM EST. Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum will be facing off in Game 1 for what many expect to be a very tight race for the World Series trophy.
The Rangers are coming off a somewhat easy series against the New York Yankees. Texas dominated in six games with help of a mediocre Yankees rotation and elusive base running. Thanks to a series of deceiving plays like “double steals” and “hit and runs” the Rangers were able to create enough runs to defeat the Yankees. More over, the Yankees starters ware far below par with their ace C.C. Sabathia posting a dismal 6.30 ERA allowing batters like Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton to shine collectively hitting six home runs and 12 rbi in the series.
San Francisco experienced a slightly bigger challenge in its six games against the Phillies. Cody Ross has been a very important component in this year’s postseason success; he helped the team with three home runs and five rbi in the NLDS. The Giants only won one out of their four games by more than one run, Game 3 pitched by Matt Cain won 3-0 was only the one decided by a multi-run lead. Let us not forget that the rest of the Giants pitching was exceptional as well, posting a collective 3.06 ERA and striking out 56 Phillies.
Many say that the difference maker in the ALCS was Cliff Lee speculating that if the Yankees had the lefty they would have been in the World Series. If Lee was the x-factor he has his work cut out for him going up against arguably the best pitcher in the National League in Tim Lincecum. Not only does Lee have a bigger challenge in the Giants but so does the rest of the Texas rotation going up against a group of more competitive pitchers. San Francisco’s rotation will also face a much bigger challenge with the Rangers coming off a very productive series posting a .303 collective batting average compare to the Phillies who only batted .216.
The Giants’ key to success is based on their pitching, it is crucial for them to get better outing(s) from Jonathan Sanchez who has shown superior resiliency in the past. Texas’ lineup is a greater challenge than Philadelphia’s featuring a designated hitter instead of a pitcher; therefore, the San Francisco pitchers will have to elevate their performance. In addition, their offense needs to take advantage of the fact that Colby Lewis and C.J. Wilson do not possess as much playoff experience as Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Working deep counts and putting these two Texas pitchers in negative pitch counts can determine run production in key situations. With Cliff Lee pitching Game 1 in San Francisco, the Giants’ home field advantage is greatly diminished. Game 4 should be San Francisco’s path to success; the fact that Tommy Hunter has not been as triumphant as the other Texas starters is something that San Francisco needs to exploit.
Texas’ lineup has been formidable through out the playoffs doing everything from hitting homeruns, stealing bases to hitting for contact. With the Giants having three highly talented pitchers the Rangers’ lineup must be as productive as ever in order to give them comfortable leads. Unfortunately, for Texas there is an unfavorable gap in both rotations, which they will need to make up offensively with their designated hitter. Vladimir Guerrero is a very talented hitter who can bat for contact and power and he can become the x-factor of this series.
In essence, the both teams will have to bring out the best of their trademark qualities. Jonathan Sanchez will have to make the Giants’ pitching better than what it has been and as good as it can be, and Vladimir Guerrero will have to do the same for the Texas lineup.
With the gaps in offense and pitching being nearly the same between both teams this series should extend to six games. Although, San Francisco has the better rotation the Rangers’ pitchers have been reliable with the exception of Tommy Hunter. Texas should not encounter difficulty neutralizing San Francisco, therefore they should win the World Series in six games.