Front-runners jump on Giants

What is it about Game 1 of a playoff series that makes everyone want to jump the gun? One victory by the Giants Wednesday night in the World Series, and gloom and doom is predicted for the Rangers.

Sure, Texas had a bad night. The Rangers lost to what is considered an offensively-challenged team that scored 11 runs, seven of which (six earned) came against their ace, Cliff Lee, who had previously been lights out in the post-season.

Beating the Rangers on a night Lee starts is certainly a coup for the Giants, but let’s not start the victory parade in the City by the Bay just yet, shall we. Remember, this Texas team suffered a debilitating defeat in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series to the Yankees, and at home yet, and still came back to win the series in six games with Lee starting only one of them.

As the Yankees learned, momentum can shift depending on the result of Game 2. If the Rangers win the second game, as they did in the ALCS, the World Series takes a different turn with the next three games in Texas.

The big change in Game 2 is that Rangers manager Ron Washington decided to keep Vlad Guerrero on the bench. Guerrero was Texas’ designated hitter most of the year but to stay in the lineup he needed to play the field at AT&T Park in San Francisco, a National League city where the DH is barred. Once a dependable right fielder with a strong arm, Guerrero had a brutal game defensively as he committed two errors, one for each run he drove in at the plate.

AT&T Park is almost the reverse of Yankee Stadium, so playing Guerrero in spacious right field was questionable at the outset. Considering Vlad’s offensive output (.300, 29 home runs, 115 RBI), it was too tempting for Washington not to give the former AL Most Valuable Player a glove. Sitting him in Game 2 must have been a difficult decision, but it will force Giants manager Bruce Bochy to make some tough ones of his own late in the game knowing who is in that opposing dugout and ready to grab a bat.

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