As the 2010 World Series moved to that ancient hotbed of baseball…um, Arlington, Texas, the incoming text read, “BTW – can you believe the Giants scored 20 runs in 2 games!??” Glancing up at the TV screen, I caught San Francisco leftfielder Pat Burrell snagging a line drive off the bat of Vlad Guerrero, executing the sort of fine running catch he rarely managed for Philadelphia. I replied, “Can’t believe Pat just caught that.”
Game three moved into the bottom of the second, and Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz clubbed a pitch from Jonathan Sanchez over centerfielder Andres Torres and off the wall. He advanced on a groundout, and didn’t on another (to third), correctly returning to third despite the condemnation of Fox announcer Tim McCarver, who may actually be going blind. (Cruz would have been out by fifteen feet. Tim, yes, behind the bag is technically “back,” but that doesn’t count unless the third baseman is on the grass if the ball is hit sharply. Just going on contact isn’t going to work if the fielder is “back but close.”) Sanchez walked the next batter, bringing rookie first baseman Mitch Moreland to the plate for a nine-pitch battle that included four fouls. The last pitch landed in the right field stands, making a genius of Cruz and the score 3-0, Texas.
Had the tide turned?
May-bee. While the Fox team of McCarver and Joe Buck told a heartwarming story about Texas’ starter Colby Lewis’ return to the U.S. from Japanese baseball and his wife’s battle against Graves disease, the Giants managed only a long fly ball to center field in the third. Nothing like a shutdown inning after your team gives you a 3-0 lead.
For the record, Lewis played 2008 and ’09 for the Hiroshima Carp, and he credits the noisy crowds in Japan as preparation for the ambiance of an American World Series. Halfway through game three he was shutting out the Giants.
In the bottom of the fifth, baseball’s highest profile rehab project, Josh Hamilton, slammed a Sanchez hanger deep into the right field seats to give Texas a 4-0 lead. Lewis then cut off the potential three-run home run scenario that would have been in the next half-frame by striking out San Francisco’s catcher, Buster Posey, with a runner on second and Burrell on deck.
Apparently mulling over the fact that he’s going to get a World Series ring no matter which team wins in the end, Benjie Molina grounded into a double play to end Texas’ sixth. (The catcher played 60+ games for each team this year, and showed – perhaps – the effects of jet lag while jogging to first.)
In the seventh Texas’ Lewis was victimized by the Cody Ross Phenomenon. The bald, bearded rodeo-clown wannabe banged out his fifth post-season home run on the same sort of inside fastball he hit well against the Phillies. To fully appreciate the weirdness of Ross’ accomplishment, it is useful to check into Baseball-Reference.com’s list of comparable players to Ross…hmmm…OK, now think over this sentence: Craig Monroe has belted out five homers this postseason. Monroe, a career .252 hitter who has played for five teams in nine years, is listed as the player statistically most like Ross at his current age, 29.
Lewis surrendered another homer to Frisco’s Torres in the eighth. Texas led then by only 4-2. After a Freddy Sanchez bullet to left that became an out, right-hander Lewis was left in the game to face the left-handed hitting Aubrey Huff…and hit him on the foot. Darren O’Day was called on to relieve Lewis at that point to face Posey. A right-handed sidearm slinger, O’Day jumped ahead, 0-2, let the count reach 3-2, then forced the right-handed hitting backstop to ground weakly to short on a horizontally breaking curve. Double play.
In the ninth, San Francisco sent Burrell, Ross, and Juan Uribe out against Texas’ 22-year-old closer Neftali Feliz. Burrell struck out for the fourth time in the game. Ross’ first pitch came in at 98, the second at 97 (0-2), and the third became a fly-out to right. Uribe faced two 99-mph bee-bee-strikes in running the count to 2-2, then flailed at another in striking out. Texas took the game.
Was it a contest to pull back that part of last year’s World Series audience that’s left – or more accurately, pull in other people to replace the Phillies and Yankees fans who wouldn’t watch this Series if you paid them? Probably not. (This year’s audience is only about three-quarters of last year’s according to the AP.) But it was Texas’ first ever World Series win, so don’t drop a term like “Nielsen rating” to any of your friends from the Lone Star State today.
“Cody Ross” & “Craig Monroe.” Baseball-Reference.com. 31 October 2010.
“Rangers’ Lewis: Japan stint helps.” The Philadelphia Inquirer 30 October 2010: E7.
“San Francisco at Texas.” World Series. Fox. Fox29, Philadelphia. 30 October 2010.