Giants' Series roll halted by Rangers
Offense limited to Ross, Torres homers; Sanchez labors
ARLINGTON -- The Giants' succession of excruciatingly close decisions and their late-season comeback to win the National League West tell their story. Little, if anything, comes easily for them.Thus, their 4-2 loss to the Texas Rangers in Saturday night's Game 3 of the World Series could have been expected. There's no way the Giants would take a 3-0 Series lead. Not after a season in which adversity accompanied triumph. Not given their history, which includes exactly zero world championships since 1954. Instead, the Giants lead the Series, 2-1, as Texas' first World Series win in franchise history guaranteed that a Game 5 will be played here Monday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Though the Giants maintain the Series edge, Sunday's Game 4 looms large. The previous teams leading 2-1 entering Game 4 are 41-40. Of the 41 teams leading 2-1 who won Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead, 35 proceeded to win the Series. This happened in each of the last two years, with Philadelphia in 2008 and New York in 2009. Of the 40 teams leading 2-1 that have lost Game 4 to even the Series, 2-2, only 18 ultimately won it. The most recent of those survivors was the 2002 Angels, who outlasted ... the Giants.
Giants outfielder Cody Ross acknowledged the heightened competitiveness of this 106th Fall Classic."It's always a dogfight. It was a dogfight before the beginning of this game," said Ross, who continued his otherworldly hitting by belting his fifth postseason home run. The defeat, Ross added, "takes some wind out of your sails. But we have to keep doing what we did the first couple of games. Tonight they put the pressure on us and we couldn't answer." Said Rangers third baseman Michael Young, "Obviously we needed to come out and win heading into Game 4. But I really never bought into that must-win stuff. Every game is big. The only time it's must-win is when the other team has three wins. We just wanted to play our brand of baseball and this is a good start. But we know we can do even more." The Giants played capably. They turned three double plays and received 3 1/3 shutout innings from the bullpen. They simply couldn't muster much offense, which made their 20-run total in the Series' first two games look more like an aberration. They collected five hits in 7 2/3 innings off Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis, who lapsed only briefly as Ross and Andres Torres clobbered one-out homers off him in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Darren O'Day and Neftali Feliz retired the four batters they faced to preserve Lewis' third consecutive postseason triumph. Lewis gave the Giants only two at-bats with runners in scoring position. Freddy Sanchez lined a one-out single and Buster Posey drew a two-out walk in the first inning. Up came Pat Burrell, who whiffed for the first of his four strikeouts. Burrell is now 0-for-9 in the Series with eight strikeouts. Aubrey Huff doubled with two outs in the sixth before Lewis retired Posey on a called third strike. "He didn't make too many mistakes," Posey said. "Even when he did, they were down in the zone. He changed speeds really well, moved the ball in and out. I don't think he missed on the plate very much." Lewis left the game after he hit Huff with a pitch to prolong the eighth inning and prompt O'Day's entrance. Up came Posey, who singled off O'Day to launch San Francisco's seven-run eighth inning in Game 2. This time, Posey grounded out weakly on a 3-2 pitch that he thought was a cutter or slider. "It was a good pitch," Posey said. "It was probably borderline. I don't know if it was a ball or a strike. But I felt like I had to swing at it." While Texas picked up a victory, the Giants gained something to contemplate. They must wonder whether this season has lasted too long for Jonathan Sanchez, who endured his second straight ineffective outing and would appear questionable to start a Game 7, if it's played. Yielding all of Texas' runs in 4 2/3 innings, Sanchez surrendered homers to Mitch Moreland, a three-run drive in the second inning, and Josh Hamilton, a two-out clout in the fifth. Sanchez has pitched 213 1/3 innings this year, including the postseason. That far exceeds his previous high of 163 1/3 last year. After excelling down the stretch (4-1, 1.03 ERA in his last seven starts) and in his first postseason start (7 1/3 strong innings in a 3-2 Division Series triumph at Atlanta), he has recorded a 5.68 ERA while allowing 14 hits in 12 2/3 innings spanning three outings. A telling sign was the fact that Sanchez allowed homers to a pair of left-handed batters, Moreland and Hamilton, after yielding just five long balls to the previous 167 lefties he faced. Bruce Bochy wouldn't directly acknowledge that Sanchez might be fatigued, though the Giants manager said, "I'm sure they're all a little tired now." Insisted Sanchez, "I'm the same. It's all good." It seemed that way despite Nelson Cruz's leadoff double in the second inning as Sanchez coaxed groundouts from Ian Kinsler and Jeff Francoeur. But ex-Giant Bengie Molina walked.
"I didn't want to leave anything over the plate," said Sanchez, perhaps aware of Molina's .353 postseason batting average entering the game.Facing Moreland, Texas' ninth-place hitter, Sanchez worked the count to 2-2. Moreland then fouled off four pitches -- "We ended up throwing pretty much everything at him," Posey said -- before lining an 89-mph fastball over the right-field barrier. Posey observed that Moreland hit an inside fastball that Sanchez threw to the prescribed location. Asked whether Sanchez's velocity seemed diminished, Posey said, "Maybe a little bit, but it's not too bad. He still has some life on the heater. It's Oct. 30. It's a long season." The Rangers' victory made it a little longer.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.