Results tagged ‘ Rangers ’

Thoughts preceding World Series Game1

Wednesday, Oct. 27

If you listen to the experts, there’s no way the Giants should win the World Series.

My employers, MLB.com, polled 15 writers or analysts; nine picked the Texas Rangers to win the Fall Classic. The disparity was much greater over at ESPN. Of the 28 wise people they surveyed, 22 predicted that the next champagne-and-beer shower will occur in Texas’ clubhouse.

It makes sense. Texas appears to play better defense, certainly possesses more speed and has more offensive thump.

But, as right-hander Matt Cain said, “If that’s what they’re writing, I guess we’ll have to change it.”

Moreover, the Giants have two equalizers: Their pitching and their pluck.

The American League boasts some strong pitching staffs — Minnesota, Boston and Tampa Bay are all above average. But when the Giants’ hurlers, particularly the starters, are on their game, they’re downright dominant.

Don’t be surprised if Tim Lincecum delivers a performance tonight that approaches his two-hit, one-walk, 14-strikeout gem against Atlanta in Game 1 of the Division Series. I doubt that the Rangers have seen many pitchers like him, and pitches like his, in the American League.

Then there’s the matter of the Giants’ attitude. General manager Brian Sabean said after the Game 6 NLCS clincher at Philadelphia that this team might not always hit or pitch more effectively than its opponents, but it competes far better than most.

That resolve and spirit are what made the difference for the Giants down the stretch as they outlasted the Padres and Rockies. Their resolute approach has remained intact during the postseason, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t continue against the Rangers.

Finally, some personal observations: People keep reminding me to enjoy this experience, to savor it. I’m trying my best, though deadlines and commitments (thank you, Bob Seger) make it difficult to share the fans’ excitement and stop to smell the hot dogs all the time.

So today, as I approached AT&T Park, I took special care to appreciate as much as I could. I was amazed as I turned onto Third Street how many people were already surrounding the ballyard, though the first pitch was more than four hours away. I marveled at the boats beginning to fill McCovey Cove as I strolled across the Lefty O’Doul bridge. And I drank in the shouts of the vendors and the buzz of the fans, just as I did during my “formative baseball years” while attending games at Candlestick Park.

I don’t think I’ve ever sensed as much energy at a baseball venue as I did this afternoon. Anticipation is a wonderful tonic.

As I’m sure you’ll all agree, Play Ball!

– Chris Haft

Omar speaks on Burriss, Frandsen; Cain just wants to pitch

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Omar Vizquel, the still-popular former Giant, didn’t endorse either Emmanuel Burriss or Kevin Frandsen in the showdown for San Francisco’s second base job. But when Omar talks, he’s worth listening to, regardless of the subject. He paid sincere compliments to each player before Monday’s Rangers-Giants exhibition.

“Burriss showed a lot of improvement last year,” said Vizquel, who occasionally teamed up the middle with Burriss when the latter played second base. “I think everybody’s surprised at how well he did, coming from Single-A ball and taking the challenge to play short and second and do everything the right way. Obviously he’s young and has to learn all the habits and everything that happens in the major leagues.

“And Frandsen, a couple years ago, I thought he was the player everybody was looking to be the regular second baseman for awhile and then he got hurt. And when you get hurt you have to [take] a long time again to get used to everything. I don’t know how he’s doing this year, but he’s got the tools to be a Major League everyday player someday.”

***

It’s fair to suppose that Matt Cain, whose determination is beyond question, is dead set on not enduring another season like the previous two, when he posted respectable ERAs yet finished with dreadful records (7-16, 3.65 in 2007, 8-14, 3.76 in 2008) due to poor run support.

But Cain reminded reporters that the wins and losses assigned to a starting pitcher often depend on factors he can’t influence. So he’ll once again focus on lasting as long as he can in each game — a mindset that has enabled him to average 202 2/3 innings in his three full big league seasons.

“I try to keep that same goal, and I feel like that goal will pay off,” said Cain, whose solid effort against Texas (seven innings, four hits, one walk, eight strikeouts) was marred by two home runs.

Cain said that he employs different mental devices to push himself.

“You almost make it a little competition (with) yourself, staying in as long as possible, or you try to outdo the other pitcher — ‘Oh, he’s going back out there? Then I’m going back out there.’ You drive yourself in different little ways as well as trying to win.”

Both Cain and Tim Lincecum have been reluctant to throw their sliders, but since each has only one exhibition start left, the time to refine that pitch is at hand, if not overdue. Cain admitted this: “It’s kind of hit-and-miss right now. That’s kind of a big pitch. I need to be more consistent with it.” He concluded that his slider might react better out of the dry Arizona air, a common complaint from pitchers regarding their offspeed deliveries.

***

Jesus Guzman homered with two outs in the ninth and the Giants trailing, 5-4, to force extra innings. He’s now hitting .412 with five homers, a team-high (along with Juan Uribe) 15 RBIs, a .922 slugging percentage and a .444 on-base percentage.

But we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Because of his lack of polish at any position, he won’t make the Opening Day roster. Expect him to receive plenty of defensive tutelage at Triple-A, though.

– Chris Haft

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