A Giant Step -- Cain in Command in Game 2 Rout

October 29, 2010, 3:14 am
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Oct. 28, 2010BOX SCORE GIANTS POSTGAME VIDEOMLB PAGE MLB SCOREBOARD
Mychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- You want to slug it out? We can do that.You want to go the tidy, low-scoring route? We can do that, too.In fact, we can do them both in the same game if you arent tidy yourself.These were the messages delivered from the Giants to the Rangers in the first two games of the 2010 World Series. In Game 1 on Wednesday, San Francisco turned what was expected to be a pitching classic into an 18-run slugfest, handing ace Cliff Lee his first postseason loss.Game 2, until the very end, was the pitchers duel everyone expected, with Matt Cains brilliance besting that of C.J. Wilson. An eighth-inning meltdown by the Rangers bullpen made the 9-0 final score incredibly deceptive, but at this stage its all about the numbers in the win column.And with the series heading for the Lone Star State and Game 3 on Saturday, the Rangers dont yet have a number. The Giants have a 2-0 series lead -- Thursdays win pushing their postseason record to a remarkable 9-3 -- and theyll have to find a way to lose four of the next five games to not claim San Francisco's first world championship since moving from New York in 1958.In Major League Baseball history, 70 teams have taken a 2-0 lead in a seven-game series. Fifty-seven of them went on to win that series.Its nice to carry this kind of momentum out to Texas with us, said lefty reliever Javier Lopez, who got one of the biggest outs of the game. You want to win at home. We did that.Yeah, echoed Cain, who provided 7 23 innings of four-hit work. Weve put ourselves in a pretty good position.Cain, you should know, seems to have an almost allergic aversion to extolling his own virtues, so heres another numerical nugget to savor and tell part of his story: Cain, the most-tenured member of the team despite being just 26 years old, hasnt yet allowed an earned run during his first postseason stroll.And a stroll it really seems. Hes allowed 13 hits over three starts and 21 13 innings of dead-calm dominance.He executed his pitches, said Giants rookie catcher Buster Posey, who hasnt quite mastered the art of hyperbole himself. He threw them where he wanted to.Cain and Wilson both did, accomplishing what aces Tim Lincecum and Lee could not in Game 1, so early-inning traffic was light on the bases, while rush hour in the Bay Area ground onward.Neither pitcher faced a truly gelatinous jam through the game's first half, pounding the strike zone with efficiency and pace, with each team getting but one man as far as second base until the bottom of the fifth.Thats when Edgar Renteria landed the first haymaker of the night's fight, lifting a one-out pitch from Wilson into deep left field.
As Rangers outfielder David Murphy drifted toward the line, the ball drifted as well, eventually cascading through the marine layer that often protects flyball pitchers in San Francisco -- and into the delirious bleachers.With that, Renteria, who only recently regained the starting shortstop job that hes lost more than once this season, became the first Colombian player in World Series history to leave the yard.Hes just such a professional, Im so happy for him to enjoy that kind of moment, San Francisco second baseman Freddy Sanchez said.
Even when he wasnt playing, he came and worked every day, prepared as if he was. His influence in the clubhouse has been so valuable.Tasked with protecting a one-run lead and delivering a shutdown inning, Cain responded with some of his best work of the night, leaving runners at second and third in the top of the sixth. Michael Young and Josh Hamilton singled with one out and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch with Nelson Cruz at the plate. But two pitches later Cain retired Nelson on a foul pop. Three pitches after that, Ian Kinsler popped out to shallow right field.
"I got the right pitch. ... I popped it up," Cruz said.
Having already started his purposeful, triumphant stride toward the home dugout, Cains the sellout crowd acknowledged the escape a roar -- even before the ball settled safely into Cody Ross' glove.You saw him really bear down there, Posey offered, and that was about as colorful is it comes with the kid.Ross, by the way, doubled in his first at-bat, extending his storybook rip through autumn and pushing his postseason hitting streak to nine games. Hes hit safely in 11 of 12 playoff games this season.His Thursday contribution went beyond cursory, though. Hes Cody Ross, for the love of hot cocoa on Halloween. He impacts games, and he left his nightly mark in the bottom of the seventh.After working the count full against Wilson as the leadoff man in the inning, Ross fouled off four consecutive pitches before taking the 10th pitch of the at-bat -- and Wilsons 101st pitch of the evening.A mound conference ensued, during which it was decided that a developing blister on Wilsons pitching hand required discretion, so Rangers manager Ron Washington called on reliever and apparent Ponce de Leon shipmate Darren Oliver, a graying lefty who turned 40 shortly after the 2010 playoffs opened.Aubrey Huff grounded out to the right side, moving Ross into scoring position, and moments later Juan Uribe dumped a Texas Leaguer into right field. That brought Ross around third, across home and, presumably, straight into the heart of former Journey frontman-turned-Giants-mascot Steve Perry.Again facing the all-important shutdown inning, Cain issued a one-out walk to Elvis Andrus, who stole his way into scoring position. With his next pitch, Cain got Young on a fly ball to right before Giants manager Bruce Bochy decided 102 pitches was enough for the night.Lefty Javier Lopez was summoned to face the Hamilton and keep Cains postseason scoreless streak intact. The lefty slugger flew out harmlessly to center.We know he can hurt you, Lopez said. I try not to think about the individual matchup, though. I was just thinking we needed that out, and were fortunate to get it.And because he did, Perry -- from his perch on the suite level -- turned his inner lunatic meter up to 11 between innings and led the masses in the now-standard playing of Journeys Lights.Its such an incredible atmosphere here, Ross said. Everything is just, I dont know, crazy.An inning later it was lights-out for the Rangers, who issued four consecutive walks in the bottom of the eighth, pushing across the first two insurance runs before Renteria padded his stats with a two-run single.Aaron Rowand added a two-run rocket into Triples Alley, Andres Torres closed the scoring with an RBI double, and Guillermo Mota wrapped up the shutout in the ninth.As the water cannons exploded and the celebratory Tony Bennett tune was cued up on the stadium P.A., the Rangers filed into their church-quiet clubhouse losers of all 11 games theyve played in this park.This is the first time the AL champions have been down by two games this postseason
I certainly dont feel like were defeated, Washington said. But give their pitching credit. They took care of us.In other words: Messages received.
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