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Giants, Rangers still have to be favored, but . . .

Oct 22, 2010, 8:22 AM EDT

Giants' Ross and Posey react in the ninth inning of their team's loss to Phillies during Game 5 of their Major League Baseball NLCS playoff series in San Francisco

The good news for Rangers and Giants fans: in Major League Baseball history, 35 teams have been up 3-1 and then lost Game 5. Of those 35 Game 5 losers, 24 still went on to win the series. The good news for Giants fans: 17 of those Game 5 losers had to go on the road for Games 6 and 7, and 12 of those ended up winning the series. So yes, the odds still favor the plucky underdogs from Texas and San Francisco. Purely on history, the Rangers have a 67% chance at going on to the World Series and the Giants a 71% chance.

But as a great philosopher once said: never tell me the odds.

Why? Because of the 1987 NLCS. Because of the 2002 World Series. Neither of those Giants teams ever had a 3-1 lead, but each took a 3-2 lead on the road for games 6 and 7, and each of those teams woofed the final two. I like Matt Cain’s chances in a Game 7 better than Atlee Hammaker’s, and for all of the hostility in Citizens Bank Park, they don’t have the power of the Rally Monkey on their side in Philly, but you just know that Giants fans feel like they’ve been here before.  I still worry about the Phillies’ offense, but the juju of it all is in their favor, and that’s not nothing.

The Rangers, in my mind, are in a much, much better position. They’re at home. They face a shaky Phil Hughes tonight. If worst comes to worst they have the best postseason pitcher in baseball going in Game 7. Nothing in life, and especially nothing in baseball is guaranteed, but I’d probably give the Rangers something better than the two out of three odds history gives them.

Tense times for Philly, San Francisco, New York and Texas partisans. Awesomely entertaining times for the rest of us. Here’s to a fantastic weekend of playoff baseball.

  1. Ari Collins - Oct 22, 2010 at 9:54 AM

    Most of what I take from this article is that Atlee Hammaker is an amazing name.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 22, 2010 at 12:48 PM

      Agreed!

  2. hankg42 - Oct 22, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    To say that Cliff Lee is the “best postseason pitcher in baseball” is fine, but to not even mention that he has to face Andy Pettitte, with the best post season record in history, is a bit of an oversight, in my opinion.

    • Utley's Hair - Oct 22, 2010 at 11:02 AM

      Percentage-wise, you’re wrong. Cliffy has the best record in postseason history. Pettitte may have more wins than anybody else, but he also has had more starts, so your assertion is fundamentally flawed.

      • hankg42 - Oct 22, 2010 at 11:10 AM

        OK, percentage-wise I’m wrong. Come back and see me when Cliff Lee has 19 post season wins.

      • Kevin S. - Oct 22, 2010 at 11:26 AM

        You both lose for using W/L to judge pitchers.

      • Utley's Hair - Oct 22, 2010 at 11:52 AM

        I was simply arguing the merits of his argument.

  3. msfoster - Oct 22, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Right. Because none of that has to do with his age or his teams number of post season appearances. All of which Andy Pettitte was directly responsible for, right? I’m so sick of Yankee arrogance.

    • donbp - Oct 22, 2010 at 3:49 PM

      I don’t know how old you are but I think it is probably safe to say you are in for one long miserable life if Yankee arrogance makes you sick.

  4. hankg42 - Oct 22, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    No arrogance intended at all. My comment was that simply, in my opinion, it was an oversight to ignore the fact that the Rangers had to face Andy Pettitte. Didn’t mean to get anybody’s nose out of joint.

    • jmr411 - Oct 22, 2010 at 11:55 AM

      Its a fair point that Pettitte has benefited stats-wise from starting so many post-season games, and that Lee has been the more dominant pitcher in the limited starts that he has had thus far (by comparison). But it is hardly “arrogant” to suggest that an article might mention the fact that the winning-est pitcher in post-season history would be facing Lee in a game 7. The irony is pretty funny, too — Pettitte is probably the least arrogant of any of the current Yankees.

      • msfoster - Oct 22, 2010 at 12:33 PM

        “OK, percentage-wise I’m wrong. Come back and see me when Cliff Lee has 19 post season wins.”

        Percentage is pretty important to make statistics meaningful. Using some of Jamie Moyer’s numbers outside of percentage would make him look like the greatest pitcher that ever was… which couldn’t be further from the truth.

        It’s not the Yankee players whose arrogance I’ve grown tired of…. and those pinstripe loving tbs announcers aren’t helping.

      • Utley's Hair - Oct 22, 2010 at 1:08 PM

        Just wait until FOX gets the WS–even if (hopefully when) the Walkers knock ‘em out. Schmuck and McCarebear will STILL be fawning all over them if Texas beats them.

  5. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 22, 2010 at 12:50 PM

    All I can say is, go Rangers go. The Yankees don’t need a 29th championship.

    • Utley's Hair - Oct 22, 2010 at 1:05 PM

      Dear God, man!! Don’t give them any more than they allegedly “earned”–they only have 27 right now!!!!!!!

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 22, 2010 at 1:05 PM

        Haha, only 27? I lost count.

      • donbp - Oct 22, 2010 at 3:54 PM

        40 Pennants though. They can always use some more of those.

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