Results tagged ‘ Aaron Rowand ’

How much did Lee lose?

Did Cliff Lee hurt his bargaining power with his two losses in the World Series? Although he pitched brilliantly for six innings Monday night, the three-run home run Lee allowed to Edgar Renteria in the seventh essentially lost the World Series for the Rangers, who will have to dig deep into their pockets, which aren’t exactly Texas size, to retain the lefthander bound for free agency.

The Yankees haven’t made any secret of their interest in Lee, who beat them twice in the 2009 World Series and again in Game 3 of this year’s American League Championship Series. General manager Brian Cashman tried to trade for Lee in July and almost had a deal in place before the Rangers swooped in and grabbed him from Seattle.

Lee was not exactly lights out for Texas during the regular season (4-6, 3.98 ERA) after a terrific start with the Mariners (8-3, 2.34 ERA). That’s a combined record of 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA, which is not all that imposing. Lee is looking for CC Sabathia-type money, but those statistics aren’t CC Sabathia-type numbers.

Speaking of numbers, Lee went from 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in the 2009 World Series to 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA in the 2010 World Series. Now I’m not forgetting his two victories over the Rays on the road in the Division Series or his Game 3 gem against the Yankees in the ALCS, also on the road. In fact, Lee did not lose on the road or win in Texas in the post-season, so maybe Rangers Ballpark In Arlington is not the place for him.

One thing the Yankees have to be careful about is how they look at a pitcher who has been successful against them (9-4, 3.81 ERA, including post-season play). Not to pick on A.J. Burnett, but his attractiveness to the Yankees two off-seasons ago was based a lot on how he pitched against them. The problem is that if a player goes to his “cousin,” then he doesn’t have that “cousin” anymore.

Don’t get the idea that I’m ranking on Lee. He would be a great addition to the Yankees. I’m just saying his price tag may have to be re-arranged a bit.

For old-time Giants fans, the ones still sore at their leaving the Polo Grounds for San Francisco in 1958, you will have to admit that the Curse of Coogan’s Bluff is over now that the Giants have their first championship in the Bay Area. The 1962 Giants of Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal couldn’t do it. The 1989 Giants of Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell and Matt Williams couldn’t do it. The 2002 Giants of Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Robb Nen couldn’t do it. Managers as talented as Alvin Dark, Roger Craig and Dusty Baker couldn’t do it.

It came down to the Bruce Bochy-directed Giants of Renteria, Juan Uribe, Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross, plus a string of excellent young pitchers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, plus an exceptional rookie catcher Buster Posey, plus a paint-it-black bearded closer Brian Wilson, not to be confused with the Beach Boy.

Lincecum outpitched Lee in Game 5, which was also characterized by Bochy out-managing Ron Washington. In the sixth inning, Mitch Moreland led off with a single for the Rangers in what was then a scoreless game. Instead of playing for one run against the overpowering Lincecum, Washington eschewed the sacrifice and had Elvis Andrus swing away on a hit-and-run play, but he lined out to center and Moreland had to scurry back to first base. Again, no bunt with one out, and Michael Young flied out to center as well.

In the seventh, when the Giants put their first two runners on with singles by Ross and Uribe on two-strike pitches, Bochy ordered the bunt from Huff, who did not have a sacrifice in a 13-season career.  A pro, Huff got the ball down and put the runners in scoring position. Lee got the second out by punching out Pat Burrell, who had a brutal Series (0-for13, 11 strikeouts).

Again, Washington blundered by not ordering Renteria walked intentionally and let Lee go after Aaron Rowand. Lee appeared to be pitching around Renteria, but why take the risk of a pitch going awry, such as the 2-0 cutter that the Giants shortstop clubbed for a three-run homer? Never mind that Lee didn’t want to walk Renteria; who’s running the club, the pitcher of the manager?

It was the second game-winning hit in a World Series clinching game for Renteria, who won the 1997 Series for the Marlins against the Indians with an 11th-inning single. Only two other players have done that in Series history, both Yankees – Lou Gehrig (Game 4 in 1928 against the Cardinals and Game 6 in 1936 against the Giants) and Yogi Berra (Game 4 in 1950 against the Phillies and Game 7 in 1956 against the Dodgers). Joe DiMaggio also had two game-winning RBI in Series clinching games (Game 4 in 1939 against the Reds and Game 5 in 1949 against the Dodgers), but the latter was not on a hit but a sacrifice fly.

Renteria’s were far more dramatic than the others because in each case the hits broke ties from the seventh inning on. The Giants simply shut down the Rangers after Texas got back into the Series by winning Game 3. The Rangers scored one run (on Nelson Cruz’s seventh inning solo homer off Lincecum) in the last 21 innings and did not get a single runner in scoring position in Game 5.

It was hard to believe this was the same team that had, in Cashman’s word, “manhandled” the Yankees.

Rangers exposed in World Series

I know what you’re thinking, Yankees fans. Couldn’t the Bombers have given the Giants a better game to this point in the World Series?

There is a tendency to think that way until you consider that the Yankees batted only .201 in the American League Championship Series against a Texas pitching staff that has allowed 20 runs and 22 hits to the Giants in two games. It didn’t appear that the Rangers could look worse than in losing, 11-7, in Game 1, but they were even more horrible in the 9-0 debacle in Game 2.

This was actually a pitcher’s duel for seven innings, although the Giants’ Matt Cain had a decided edge over the Rangers’ C.J. Wilson, who was forced out of the game because of a blistered finger one batter into the seventh. There was nothing in the San Francisco eighth that could be called a duel, however. The first two Giants batters struck out, then after a soft single to center by Buster Posey, Halloween came early for Texas.

Derek Holland, who had pitched so brilliantly against the Yankees in the ALCS, came out of the bullpen and threw 11 straight pitches out of the strike zone on the way to loading the bases and forcing in a run. Mark Lowe walked in another run before the Giants swung the bats and got a two-run single from Edgar Renteria and RBI hits from Aaron Rowand (triple) and Andres Torres (double). Seven two-out runs made it 13 of the 20 in the Series for the Giants.

It turned out to be another lopsided game in a World Series to decide a season that was characterized by outstanding pitching. Cain aside, we have seen little of that in the Series. The Giants righthander ran his string of post-season innings without allowing an earned run to 21 1/3 in which he has allowed 13 hits and five walks with 13 strikeouts.

Despite being routed in Game 1, the Rangers walked only one batter (by Cliff Lee yet), but they gave up four free passes in the eighth, which must have given team president Nolan Ryan a feeling of déjà vu. The all-time strikeout leader is also the career leader in bases on balls by a pitcher.

A Texas offense that hit .306 against the Yankees in the ALCS and had 11 hits in Game 1 of the World Series had three singles and a double in getting shut out Thursday night. The closest the Rangers came to scoring was in the fifth when Ian Kinsler led off with a drive to deep center, but the ball struck the top of the fence like an old Spalding off a New York neighborhood stoop and fell back to the field. Kinsler had to settle for a double and never advanced beyond second base.

Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton, the AL Most Valuable Player favorite, looks like a different player against the Giants than he was against the Yankees. Hamilton was the MVP of the ALCS, batting .350 with four home runs, seven RBI and eight walks, half of them intentional. He worried the Yankees so much that manager Joe Girardi chose to walk Hamilton on purpose three times in one game. The Giants have challenged Hamilton, who is 1-for-8 with one walk (not intentional) in the World Series.

The offensive stars of the Series are the aging left side of the San Francisco infield – Renteria, 34, at shortstop and third baseman Jose Uribe, 30. When the score was only 2-0, they had driven in the runs, Renteria with a home run in the fifth and Uribe with a single in the seventh. Each has homered and combined to bat .357 with eight RBI and six runs scored.

Imagine what Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez make of that?