With double off 'Freak,' Lee displays swing
First-inning hit advances Molina before Andrus brings in a run
SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Young, it turns out, is a pretty fair prophet for a third baseman.
On the eve of Wednesday's World Series Game 1, Young was talking about Rangers ace Cliff Lee and his surprisingly adept ability with the bat in a workout on Sunday. It was the first time Young had seen Lee swing, and he was so impressed, he suggested the Game 1 starter could be a secret weapon offensively.
Young and all of the Rangers sprung to life in the visitors' dugout during the second inning at AT&T Park on Wednesday evening, when Lee, after bunting the first pitch from Tim Lincecum foul, bluffed a bunt, straightened up and stroked a double to the left-center-field gap.
Bengie Molina, who'd singled leading off, steamed into third, scoring on Elvis Andrus' sacrifice fly to give Texas a short-lived 2-0 lead. It didn't last long, the Giants rebounding in a big way to knock out Lee and pound out an 11-7 decision, ending the veteran lefty's remarkable run of postseason mastery.
Lee's third career double was the first extra-base hit by an American League pitcher in a World Series game since Chad Ogea doubled for Cleveland in Game 6 of the 1997 Fall Classic against Florida. It was just the fourth extra-base hit by an AL pitcher in 36 years, dating to 1975. Mike Moore and Al Leiter delivered the others.
While he tried in the aftermath to sort out all of the things that went wrong on the mound, Lee at least had his moment at the plate -- and on the bases -- to deposit in the memory bank to recall one day with fondness.
As his teammates gave Lee "The Claw" salute from the steps of the visitors' dugout, Lee shrugged his shoulders and gave a look that said he didn't know how to respond.
"He really showed us something there," Molina said. "He got into that ball, and we let him know we appreciated it."
In his only other at-bat, in the fourth inning, Lee took one big cut before grounding out to shortstop, leaving Mitch Moreland stranded after a two-out double.
Having thrown all but 12 of his 222 career games in the AL, Lee has not had a lot of experience with a bat. But Young, after watching the ace take his lefty swings in Texas, came to the conclusion that Lee "could have a surprise" waiting if Lincecum put something in his wheelhouse.
That's what happened with a 1-1 slider by Lincecum that stayed up in the strike zone and sent center fielder Andres Torres to the warning track, chasing it down.
"I had never seen Cliff hit until [Sunday]," Young said. "Cliff has a real good swing. He's a good athlete."
A .132 career hitter in 71 regular-season plate appearances, Lee was 3-for-11 (.273) last October for the Phillies against the Rockies, Dodgers and Yankees. He even managed to steal a base.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.