The Baseball Notebook

October 28, 2010 8:01 AM

Bullpen Makes The Difference For Giants

WorldSeriesGame1.jpgBoth Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum proved to be hittable last night, but in the decisive sequence through the bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth, it was the bullpen--identified here yesterday as they key difference between the two teams--which made the difference in Game 1. San Francisco had broken through against Lee, breaking open a 2-2 game with three runs. With two men on base and two outs, Lee was removed for Darren O'Day. Reliable all year long, but suspect in the American League playoffs, O'Day promptly gave up a three-run shot to Juan Uribe that broke the game wide open. Texas promptly rallied and scored twice in the sixth, then put two men on with two out. In precisely the same situation, Lincecum came out. Santiago Casilla ended the inning with no further damage. The Giants added three key add-on runs later, runs hat would loom large in the ninth, as Texas rallied, but was never close enough to make it interesting, ending 11-7.

The media storyline will be about how San Francisco beat Lee, but that is only because the media had already built Lee up to be completely unbeatable--not without justification, given his 0.75 ERA in three playoff starts this year and a dominant run last year in Philadelphia--but Game 1 was much more important to the Giants. If you assume there will be two Lee-Lincecum matchups in the Series, it's imperative for each team to get a split of the showdown between aces. The second matchup would presumably be Game 5 in Texas (though one or both could pitch Game 4 on short rest), meaning this game at home was San Fran's best shot to get to Lee. Texas can still be more than happy to get back home with a split if they win tonight.

On a footnote for Game 1, did anyone ever have a more interesting World Series debut than Ranger second baseman Ian Kinsler. In the top of the first he grounds into an inning-ending double play. In the bottom of the first he makes a fantastic defensive play, covering a huge amount of ground to run down a blooper in no-man's land in right field, then turning around to double up Freddy Sanchez. He was the victim of some great defense by Aubrey Huff later on, when Huff dove to corral an errant throw on a Kinsler ground ball. Kinsler understandably rounded the bag, thinking Huff had no chance at the play. He was caught dead to rights. Maybe it was appropriate he was the final out of the game. His counterpart at second base, Sanchez, was the hitting hero for the Giants, hitting three doubles, the first player in history to hit three straight two-baggers in his first three World Series at-bats.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily MLB playoff coverage and game analysis in college football and the NFL. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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