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Pitchers’ duel turns into a laugher as Giants take 2-0 lead

Oct 29, 2010, 12:05 AM EDT

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You wouldn’t know it by the lopsided 9-0 final score, but Game 2 of the World Series was actually an outstanding pitchers’ duel for six-and-half innings Thursday night. Seriously.

Matt Cain extended his postseason scoreless streak to 21.1 innings with his third straight gem and C.J. Wilson nearly matched him pitch for pitch before exiting with a blister on his left middle finger. At that point Edgar Renteria had produced the game’s only run by homering off Wilson as the latest unlikely source of offense for the Giants’ grind-it-out lineup.

And then Texas’ bullpen imploded, allowing seven runs in the eighth inning, all of them with two outs.

This bullpen mess was different than Game 1 of the ALCS because the Rangers were already down by the time the musical relievers started, but just like he did against the Yankees manager Ron Washington let the game slip away in the eighth inning while using just about every pitcher in the bullpen except his best guy, closer Neftali Feliz.

Feliz sat by as Derek Holland came into a 2-0 game and walked three straight batters, forcing in the Giants’ third run. And when Washington mercifully removed Holland from the game to bring in a fresh arm it was Mark Lowe, who missed nearly the entire season with a back injury and was only added to the World Series roster after sitting out the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Lowe promptly followed Holland’s lead by walking in the Giants’ fourth run, gave up a single to make it 6-0, and then gave way to another reliever, rookie Michael Kirkman, who allowed back-to-back extra-base hits to make it 9-0. And all because Washington held back his best reliever–who hadn’t worked in six days and gets another day off Friday–for a “save” situation that never arrived.

Would the Rangers have been able to rally for two runs off Giants closer Brian Wilson? Probably not, but that comeback was at least within the realm of possibility had Feliz wriggled out trouble rather than the no-name trio of Holland, Lowe, and Kirkman turning the game into a blowout.

We’ll never know how things would have turned out had San Francisco taken a two-run lead into the ninth inning, but here’s what we do know: Texas is in an 0-2 hole and the last 13 teams to lose the first two games on the road have gone on to lose the World Series. They’ll have to win at least two of three in Texas to send things back to AT&T Park … where the Rangers are now 0-11 all time.

Somewhat lost in Cain’s brilliance and Washington’s bullpen mismanagement is that the Giants have now scored 20 runs in two games, which is remarkable for a team that ranked 17th in runs per game during the regular season. They now have nine wins this postseason and in seven of those games they faced a pitcher who ranked among MLB’s top 27 in ERA with a mark of 3.35 or lower: Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt (twice), Tim Hudson, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and now C.J. Wilson.

Game 3 opponent Colby Lewis wasn’t among those ERA leaders, but he’ll provide another very tough test for the Giants’ offense after shutting down the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS. San Francisco will counter with Jonathan Sanchez, whose 3.07 ERA put him in that top-27, but the control-challenged southpaw lasted just two innings against the Phillies in Game 6 of the NLCS after back-to-back strong starts to begin the playoffs.

For the Rangers to get back into the series they simply need Lewis to come up big again, but for the Rangers to win the series they’ll also need Washington to cease being dramatically out-managed by Bruce Bochy.

  1. seeingwhatsticks - Oct 29, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    I think MLB needs to maybe take a look at the injury replacement rules regarding pitchers. I think the CJ Wilson blister is extremely dubious given the situation. Are you going to honestly say it wasn’t a factor until AFTER he walked Cody Ross? I guess he was ok to finish that AB, but not to continue pitching after that? Dubious, extremely dubious. I think Washington screwed up by not having Oliver ready to face Huff, realized he screwed up by not having a lefty up in the pen to face Huff, and went to pull Wilson under the injury rules so that Oliver could get all the time he needed to warm up. It obviously did not matter tonight but I don’t think you should get the injury warm up rules if you take out a guy a. AFTER an AB, and/or b. when there was no sudden injury. Had he been hit by a line drive, or hurt himself covering a base, or had his plant foot slip during his delivery, then he can be replaced but you shouldn’t be able to wait for an AB to finish before deciding the injury is too much to keep going. Especially when the blister was a pre-existing condition. Ask yourself this: if Ross had made an out would Wilson have been pulled? With the Giants lone lefty coming to the plate? Highly doubtful.

  2. godz1la - Oct 29, 2010 at 2:17 AM

    Origami. Texas Rangers bullpen folded like a piece of Origami

  3. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Oct 29, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    Preserving a 2 run deficit in the 8th is definitely a “save” situation in the World Series. You pitch your closer EVERY time you need to ensure that the other team won’t score late in the game. Feliz should be in nearly every, if not all, World Series games. He’s your best bullpen guy and he hasn’t pitched yet?!?!?!?!? WTF? Just b/c it’s not technically a “save situation”???? Man, SF brought the dubees, but Texas brought the dubious. I’m pissed that this game turned into a blowout after those two great starts from the SPs.

    DJ said it right last night, the Rangers didn’t deserve to win after that display of poor management. BOOOOOOOO WASHINGTON BOOOOOOO

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