Rookie Madison Bumgarner pitches the Giants to the brink of a world championship.
ARLINGTON—Madison Bumgarner has just turned in the kind of performance that very few pitchers who have ever put on a major-league uniform have matched. Yet at game's end, it was hard to tell he had even been the winning pitcher.
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The Rangers finally get on the board thanks to pitching and the timely hitting of Mitch Moreland.
One game might only mean ignominy deferred. It might only be the beginning of a replay of '87, reconfirming the convictions of those who want to invest everything in full faith and confidence in the benefits of home-field advantage. Heck, achieve that, and "the All-Star Game means something" might even win a few converts.
The Rangers win the first-ever Fall Classic game in the Metroplex to claw (and antler) their way back into the series.
ARLINGTON—Giants manager Bruce Bochy said earlier in the postseason that his team reminded him of the "The Dirty Dozen," a band of castoffs and misfits. The media has run with that and Bochy's line has been repeated over and over for two weeks.
As the Series shifts to Texas, the Rangers will look to their Japanese import to stay afloat while the Giants look for a bounceback outing from a talented lefty.
Jonathan Sanchez: 3.07 ERA, 3.70 SIERA Sanchez’s ERA has been all over the place the last three years, but his SIERA has stayed in the same range, gradually falling from 3.92 in 2008 to 3.80 in 2009, and now to 3.70 in 2010. His walk and strikeout numbers are both extremely high, while his batted-ball rates are pretty average across the board. Sanchez has struck out 25 percent of hitters he has faced in each of the last two seasons, while walking 12 percent, making him a pitcher who is bound to aggregate large pitch counts quickly. In fact, Sanchez has averaged 4.0 pitches per hitter in each of the last two years and thus only 5.8 innings per start in 2010 and 5.4 in 2009. The key for the Rangers will be to drive his pitch count up, because he is tough to hit otherwise. Sanchez has been the beneficiary of a lucky BABIP this year (.255 overall), thanks to a .114 on outfield fly balls—well below the .179 league average—and he also has just a .667 BABIP on line drives, below the league average of .716. These have enabled him to accumulate more innings this season than last. As his luck normalizes, he can be chased after closer to five innings than six, and if the Rangers are patient they will have a chance to get into the Giants' bullpen early. The contrast between what can happen when Sanchez is on his game and when he is not has been crystal clear thus far in the playoffs. Sanchez whiffed 11 Braves and walked only one in 7 1/3 dominant innings in NLDS Game Three, but the Phillies fared better, netting four runs in eight innings across two starts in the NLCS. The Phillies scored a first-inning run off of Sanchez with the help of three walks in Game Two of the NLCS, but he shut them down the rest of the way. However, the Phillies did manage to chase him in the third inning of Game Six of the NLCS, but failed to capitalize against the Giants' bullpen and were shut out the rest of the way. Beating Sanchez is tough to do without free passes, but he is not stingy with them. If the Rangers are patient, they could put up a crooked number or two against Sanchez en route to a victory to shrink the Giants 2-0 lead in the World Series before it gets out of reach.
The Rangers' bullpen implodes and the Giants get a step closer to an elusive world championship.
SAN FRANCISCO—Relief pitchers have a special bond. Not only do they belong to the same team, but they are also a team within a team. In most ballparks, they spend the game apart from their teammates, often sitting as far as 450 feet away from the dugout.
Why stick with the classics when there's a messy brawl to be had?
As Coca-Cola executives learned back in the day, one of the problems with packaging something old as something new is that it ain't necessarily classic, whatever else you call it. With as much build up Game One of the World Series got—from parties as guilty as I am, among so many others—because there was Cliff Lee, and there was Tim Lincecum, there just had to be some new bit of history made, right? And what we got was indeed classic—Keystone Kops classic.
A look at the hurlers as the Giants try to take a 2-0 advantage in the series.
Matt Cain: 3.14 ERA, 3.90 SIERA DIPS metrics like SIERA do not work well for Cain. They are bound to estimate skill level effectively for the vast majority of pitchers, but some will be the exception to the rule. However, one must be careful not to stick a feather in the cap of every rookie who beats his SIERA, and then not fall victim to confirmation bias for those who have a second year of beating their peripherals. There will be a handful of pitchers that are lucky two years in a row and appear to have SIERA-beating skills but really do not. However, it is now four years in a row with Cain. After posting a 4.15 ERA in 2006, just above his 4.03 SIERA, Cain has transformed into a pitcher that pitches ahead of his peripherals by quite a large margin. In 2007, he had a 3.65 ERA and a 4.20 SIERA; in 2008, he had a 3.76 ERA and a 4.23 SIERA; in 2009, he had a 2.89 ERA and a 4.09 SIERA; and in 2010, he had a 3.14 ERA and a 3.90 SIERA. None of these are bad SIERAs. Cain strikes out 20 percent of hitters and walks only 6.8 percent. He is by no means a ground-ball wizard, but he induces popups regularly (11.4 percent of balls in play in 2010) suppressing his BABIP. His BABIP in his career is .270 (with a .259 BABIP at home and .283 on the road), and his HR/OFB is just 9.6 percent. Chances are that Cain has been a little bit lucky in this string of SIERA-beating ERAs, if for no other reason than it seems almost impossible that he was unlucky. However, Cain is one of the better pitchers in the postseason and gives the Giants a solid one-two punch with Tim Lincecum to bring into the World Series. His playoff performance thus far has been masterful. Cain has not allowed an earned run in 13 2/3 innings, despite a mediocre 11:5 K:BB ratio. In 38 balls in play, only 13 have been on the ground and he has generated two infield popups. Yet, somehow Cain has kept runs off the board. The usually dominant Giants bullpen surrendered a lead in Game Two of the NLDS against the Braves, costing Cain a win, but he led a combined shutout of the Phillies in Game Three of the NLCS that gave them a series lead they did not surrender. The Rangers have the better lineup in this series, but Cain gives the Giants every reason to believe that their pitching staff can make up the difference.
The Giants and Rangers more than triple the over/under in an outcome no one could have predicted.
Wednesday night's Game One of the World Series served as a reminder that baseball is still played by human beings, and that it is never wise to completely to remove that factor when analyzing the game.
With the Fall Classic now upon us, the staff at Baseball Prospectus shares their most memorable World Series moments.
Every baseball fan has a special World Series memory, whether it's Willie Mays' catch, Bill Mazeroski's home run, Brooks Robinson's defense, Kirk Gibson's limp around the bases, or Derek Jeter becoming the first-ever Mr. November. With the World Series opening tonight at AT&T Park in San Francisco with the Giants facing the Texas Rangers, many of our writers, editors, and interns share their favorite memories of the Fall Classic.
A pair of aces are set to duel as the Fall Classic is set to kick off in San Francisco.
Tim Lincecum: 3.43 ERA, 3.16 SIERA This might have seemed like a more insurmountable challenge for the Rangers a year ago when Lincecum won his second straight National League Cy Young award, but the 25-year-old’s ERA increased by 0.95 runs in 2010. However, his SIERA only went up by 0.43 runs, indicating some of his return to mortality was rooted in bad luck. His strikeout rate did decline from his lofty 2008 and 2009 levels of 28.6 and 28.8 percent to 25.8 in 2010. While striking out as many hitters as any starting pitcher did during his Cy Young years, Lincecum was able to get away with mediocre walk and ground-ball rates. However, as his velocity declined, he became slightly more hittable and batters were able to get more runs off him. Lincecum did put up a career-best 50 percent ground-ball rate in 2010, suggesting that he is learning how to pitch smarter. However, he also had some bad luck as well—his BABIP was .315, primarily due to a 20.9 percent line-drive rate. This sounds bad, but line-drive rate is the least persistent pitcher statistic. In his career, Lincecum has allowed a .301 BABIP, so there is little reason to expect this to change. Lincecum will still strike out about a quarter of hitters he faces, and in the 2010 postseason he has struck out 34 percent of hitters he has faced. While this came in part due to striking out 14 of 30 Braves in Game One of the NLDS, he still struck out 16 of 59 Phillies he faced in the NLCS. The righty may not be the best pitcher in the league anymore, but he definitely is among the best. As the Giants go up against Cliff Lee in Game One of the World Series, Lincecum will probably need to be on top of his game, but there is little doubt that The Freak is a formidable opponent.