Ten-gallon splat: SF knocks Texas off a Cliff

Ten-gallon splat: SF knocks Texas off a Cliff

SAN FRANCISCO -- Witnesses of Game 1 of the World Series received a double surprise: The anticipated pitching duel between Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee turned into a slugfest. And the Giants landed more punches.

San Francisco took its initial step toward ending the franchise's 55-year championship drought by stunning Lee and the Texas Rangers with eight consecutive runs to cruise to an 11-7 victory Wednesday night in Game 1 of the World Series.

"It's a big game, [defeating] one of the best in baseball," Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff said, referring to Lee.


Propelled by a six-run fifth inning that featured Juan Uribe's three-run homer, the Giants recorded the biggest single-game scoring total of this postseason. That belied their .231 batting average and 3.0 scoring average in their previous 10 postseason games. The teams' combined 18 runs set another standard for this postseason.

The seventh matchup of Cy Young Award winners in a postseason series opener dissolved in a stream of 11 extra-base hits, including seven by the Giants (the most by one team since the Phillies had seven in Game 4 of the 2008 series). Lee, who entered the game 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in this postseason, absorbed the defeat while being charged with seven runs (six earned) in 4 2/3 innings and surrendering eight hits. Lincecum improved to 3-1 in this postseason despite yielding four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Huff used a gambling analogy to convey the unexpected result of the Lincecum-Lee matchup.

SERIOUS STARTS
The 11 runs scored by the Giants in Wednesday's 11-7 win over the Rangers ties them for the fourth most scored by the winning team in Game 1 of a World Series.
Year Team Score Opponent
2007 Red Sox 13-1 Rockies
1996 Braves 12-1 Yankees
1932 Yankees 12-6 Cubs
2010 Giants 11-7 Rangers
2004 Red Sox 11-9 Cardinals
1978 Dodgers 11-5 Yankees
1959 White Sox 11-0 Dodgers
"You [bet] a hundred bucks in Vegas, you're probably a millionaire, aren't you?" Huff said, "That's what's funny about the postseason, man. You never know what's going to happen."

True enough. San Francisco collected nine hits with runners in scoring position, matching its total for the entire National League Championship Series against Philadelphia. The Giants have 27 hits in their last two games, including 14 against Texas. That equaled the most they've amassed since they also had 14 in a 10-9 loss at Colorado on Sept. 25, and is the most by one team in a single World Series game since the Reds in 2007 (Game 3).

"You just saw one of those nights where, once every two or three weeks, we score five or six runs," Huff said, prompting laughter from reporters. "It just happened to be in Game 1 of the World Series."

The number that preoccupies San Francisco is four -- the victory total they'll need to clinch this best-of-seven series and win the Fall Classic for the first time since 1954.

Capturing this opener was an encouraging development for the Giants. The Game 1 winner has proceeded to win the World Series in 11 of the last 13 years, including six of the past seven. But it's worth remembering that San Francisco won the opener of the 2002 Series, its last visit to the Fall Classic, and ultimately lost in seven games to the Angels.

"You want to come out and win the first game at home," said Giants closer Brian Wilson, who finished the game after Texas scored three meaningless but nagging runs in the ninth inning. "It's not like it makes you more comfortable, it doesn't put you at ease, but that's the No. 1 goal."

The Giants' ultimate dominance was inconceivable at the outset as Texas scored in each of the first two innings off Lincecum. He allowed four hits, including a second-inning double by the .132-hitting Lee, and committed a shocking gaffe by fielding Nelson Cruz's grounder and running Michael Young safely to third base. Lincecum's self-described "brain fart" loaded the bases with one out and a run already in, but Lincecum escaped by coaxing Ian Kinsler's double-play grounder.

A little something extra
Most extra-base hits by the Giants in a World Series game
Date Opp. 2B 3B HR XBH
10/27/2010 TEX 6 0 1 7
10/24/2002 ANA 3 1 3 7
10/9/1912 BOS 3 3 0 6

San Francisco pulled even in the second inning as Freddy Sanchez hit his second of three doubles to end Lee's 16-inning postseason scoreless streak before Buster Posey added an RBI single. Sanchez went 4-for-5 to tie a Giants record for most hits in a World Series game. Fittingly, of the eight players to accomplish this, the one who did so most recently was on the premises: Monte Irvin, who was among the Hall of Fame Giants honored in a pregame ceremony.

As Lee and Lincecum briefly found their respective grooves, the score remained tied until the fifth, when the Giants' free-swinging tendencies worked to their advantage against Lee.

"We just went up there aggressively against him," Huff said. "There's no secret he's a strike-thrower. You don't want to get 0-1, 0-2 off him early so he can get to his really good stuff."

The Giants scored all but one of their fifth-inning runs with two outs. Andres Torres launched the uprising with a one-out double to left field. He scored on Sanchez's third double of the evening. Lee retired Posey on a called third strike, but Pat Burrell walked on a 3-2 pitch to prolong the inning.

NLCS Most Valuable Player Cody Ross singled to center on Lee's 100th pitch of the game, delivering Sanchez. Burrell hustled home as Huff also singled. Huff's left-handed-batting brethren had entered the game 2-for-25 off Lee in this postseason. But the Rangers ace, who allowed as many as seven runs for only the 16th time in 227 career starts (including postseason), was clearly vulnerable. Texas manager Ron Washington acknowledged this by replacing his ace with sidearmer Darren O'Day.

Up came Uribe, whose eighth-inning homer provided the winning margin in San Francisco's Game 6 NLCS clincher last Saturday. This time, Uribe drove a 2-0 pitch into the left-field seats, thrilling the heavily pro-Giants audience that packed AT&T Park. It was the Giants' highest-scoring Series inning since they also amassed six in Game 4 against the Yankees in 1937.

Uribe maintained his simple approach: "Look for that fastball, take each pitch one at a time and when the ball's in the strike zone, be ready to connect," he said through an interpreter.

Texas committed two of its four errors to help the Giants add three runs in the eighth.

Skeptics might say that the Giants had no business participating in this postseason's highest-scoring game, given their airtight pitching and faulty hitting.

Yet many presumed experts still believe that the Giants have no business participating in this postseason, period.

"We don't have the most talented lineup, we don't have the most superstars, but we have a lot of heart," Ross said. "We like the fact that nobody really gives us a chance and we feed on that."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.