November 1, 2010 [LINK / comment]
Giants put Rangers on the brink
The home teams won the first three games of the 2010 World Series, the first time since 2001 (Yankees vs. Diamondbacks) that that has happened. In Game 2, Giants' pitcher Matt Cain threw 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball, and the game was actually very close -- 2-0 until the Giants staged a seven-run rally in the eighth inning. The trip back "home on the range" proved very helpful to the Rangers, as they won Game 3 on Saturday night. A three-run home run by rookie first baseman Mitch Moreland was all they needed. This time the bullpen held together, thus overcoming the Giants, 4-2.
But then last night the Rangers simply failed to muster any kind offense, as the Giants shut them out for a second time, with only three hits. (!) Who the heck is this young starting pitcher named Madison Bumgarner, anyway??? He just turned 21 in August, for Pete's sake. One would think that the noise created by the capacity crowd of 51,920 might get the Rangers going, but no such luck. There were two bad calls by the umpire at first base, both of them going against the Rangers, but it probably wouldn't have mattered. Even the presence of both former presidents Bush (the latter being a former part owner, of course) failed to inspire them. The other prominent figure in the front row, former pitching star and current part owner Nolan Ryan, did not look happy at all.
And so, the Giants have a commanding lead, 3 games to 1. So what is the secret of their success, thus far? Darned if I know. They are renowned for having very good pitching, but their batting prowess has surprised just about everybody. Their whole lineup seems capable of punching hits in clutch situations, and such above-expectations performance must stem from that undefinable team spirit / synergy.
In Game 5 tonight, Cliff Lee will attempt to redeem himself as the starting pitcher for the Rangers, facing off against Tim Lincecum once again. Odds are, he and the Rangers will prevail, but they have an awfully steep hill to climb if they manage to extend the series to a Game 6 back in San Francisco. The Giants would no doubt rather win the final game at home, and give the long-suffering Frisco fans something to really cheer about: the city's very first World Series trophy! No team since the 1985 Kansas City Royals has won the World Series after falling into a 3-games-to-1 deficit.
Rangers Ballpark update
Tonight's Game 5 will be the final ballgame to be played this year at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. So, I thought it would be fitting to do a diagram update, based in part on observations I've made while watching TV. For one thing, the upper decks in the right field corner extend about ten feet farther than I previously estimate, aligning with the foul line. Just like in Sportsman's Park! The dirt layout of the diamond is more precise than before, as are the dugouts. The biggest difference, however, is in the profile, and I have estimated that the grandstand is about ten feet taller than I thought before. For the sake of comparison, I have left the sideways version diagram intact for the time being. I will update it over the next couple weeks or so.
Nats keep Riggleman
As expected, Jim Riggleman has been renewed as the Nationals' manager for the 2011 season. Even though his win-loss record has been less than desirable, it's probably best to maintain stability as the Nationals beef up their pitching rotation and lineup for next year. He has a calm, patient style much like Joe Torre, who sometimes is not appreciated as much as he should be. If the Nationals don't come close to .500 next year, then it's probably time for Riggleman to go.