Friday, October 29, 2010

World Series Recap: Game 2

Yesterday’s World Series game 2, which took place under the lights of San Francisco’s AT&T Park,  pitted the Giants’ Matt Cain against the Rangers’ CJ Wilson. With the Giants up 1-0 after their game 1 win, Cain was looking to give his team a commanding two-game lead in the series while Wilson looked to even it up going back to Arlington for game 3. 

For much of the beginning of this game, we saw the pitcher’s duel many (including myself) predicted for game 1. Through 4 innings, Wilson had allowed only a Cody Ross double, a Matt Cain single, and a Pat Burrell walk, while Cain allowed just a Mitch Moreland single, and the game remained scoreless. 

Texas nearly opened the scoring in the 5th, as Ian Kinsler led off by blasting a ball to deep centerfield. Andres Torres looked up and watched as the ball flew over his head and improbably bounced off of the very top of the wall and back into play. I’ve never seen a play like that before, live or otherwise. Your San Francisco Giants: Torture. Torres played the ball off the wall and held Kinsler to a double. Cain got two quick outs and walked Mitch Moreland to face Wilson, against whom Cain induced a groundout to strand Kinsler at second. 

The game would not remain scoreless for long, as in the bottom of the inning, Edgar Renteria curled a ball just around the leftfield foul pole for a solo home run. This one wasn’t coming back, and the Giants took a 1-0 lead. 

Cain kept cruising, and the Giants would double their lead in the 7th. Cody Ross walked against CJ Wilson to lead off the inning. Wilson then had a quick consultation on the mound with Ron Washington before making the long walk back to the dugout, forced out by a blister. Darren Oliver got Huff to ground out, but Ross advanced to second on the play. Juan Uribe followed with a single to score Ross and make this a 2-0 game, but despite advancing to second on the play, Uribe was stranded by consecutive strikeouts from Renteria and Cain. 

Cain would get two outs in the 8th before Bruce Bochy decided to play matchups and use lefty-killer Javier Lopez against Josh Hamilton with Elvis Andrus on second after a walk and stolen base. The switch worked, as Lopez got Hamilton to fly out to keep Cain’s shutout intact.

In the bottom of the 8th, things really got interesting. Darren O’Day got two strikeouts from Torres and Sanchez to lead off the inning. O’Day allowed a single to Buster Posey and was pulled in favor of Derek Holland. Holland is an extremely talented young pitcher, and I have no doubt he has a bright future ahead of him, but something got into him last night. He got an acute case of the jitters in his first World Series appearance, throwing 11 straight balls and walking Nate Schierholtz and Cody Ross on four pitches each. He then went to 3-0 on Aubrey Huff before throwing a strike, but he couldn’t repeat the feat, walking Huff to score Posey. Holland left after throwing 12 balls and only a single strike. Mark Lowe relieved him, and Juan Uribe worked a full count and took another walk to walk in a second straight run. If you’re keeping track at home, that’s 5 straight walks from the Rangers’ bullpen and 2 runs in. Lowe then allowed an Edgar Renteria single into left, scoring two. Mike Kirkman came in to face pinch-hitter Aaron Rowand, who welcomed him with a line drive into triples alley. The hit scored both runners and was true to the name of right-centerfield, as Rowand ended up on third. Andres Torres doubled to score Rowand and make the score 9-0 before Kirkman mercifully ended the inning by striking out Freddy Sanchez, Sanchez’s second K of the inning. Guillermo Mota came in and allowed no more than a two-out walk, ending the game and giving the Giants the victory. 

Let’s break it down.

Giants vs. Rangers:
WPA Leader: Matt Cain (.468)
The man they call “Shotgun” certainly blew a hole in the Rangers’ lineup last night, going 7 and two-thirds innings and allowing only 4 hits to earn the win. Though for the second straight night a Giants’ ace was not able to accrue the gaudy strikeout totals Giants fans have come to expect (Cain only recorded 2 K’s, both of Nelson Cruz), Cain was dominant in giving the Giants the 2-0 lead in the series. With 21 1/3,  he's now the owner of the longest playoff scoreless innings streak in Giants history since Walter Hoyt had 27 in 1921. Renteria was the outstanding offensive player, with a .131 WPA on his home run to open the scoring and two-run single in the 8th. No, this doesn’t change how I feel about him, but congratulations to Renteria on as big an offensive day as he can ever expect to have.

Biggest Plays:
Renteria’s home run pulled a .162 WPA, opening the scoring in the 5th. Uribe’s single to score the second run of the game went for a .090 WPA.

The Goat:
Nelson Cruz put up a -.165 on an 0 for 4 day with two strikeouts. However, his biggest negative play came in the 6th, with the game still 1-0. With runners on second and third and only one out, the Rangers had a golden opportunity to tie the game with a productive out or take the lead with a base hit. Instead, Cruz fouled out to Aubrey Huff for a -.129 WPA, and Cain would preserve the shutout. My father has issues with the fact that Derek Holland and his three consecutive walks don’t make him the goat for this game, but his outing wasn’t as bad, as the Rangers’ win expectancy was already down to 6.1% by the time Holland entered the game, so there was only so much damage Holland could do. 

Check back tomorrow, when I’ll tell you about my experience at the first two games of this series.

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