10/31/10 1:00 AM ET
Giants' offense regresses in Texas
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
After scoring a combined 20 runs while winning Games 1 and 2, San Francisco was limited to two home runs and suffered a 4-2 loss on Saturday night in the first World Series matchup at Rangers Ballpark.The face of those struggles was Pat Burrell, the slugging left fielder who went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and is now 0-for-9 with eight punchouts in the World Series. After the Series shifted to 2-1, Burrell faced question after question about his rough first three games, the offense's poor effort in Game 3 and the still-favorable outlook for Game 4. "We had some good momentum coming in -- two good games -- and we just couldn't get anything going offensively," said Burrell, whose status for Game 4 is uncertain. "We have to do a better job offensively of getting some things going, getting some guys on base."
For that, credit Rangers starter Colby Lewis, who threw nearly 72 percent of his pitches for strikes and gave up two runs on five hits and two walks in 7 2/3 innings. "We had to keep battling and keep fighting, and Colby wouldn't let us do that," Giants outfielder Cody Ross said. "He was pitching great, got some key double plays. He pitched great, that's the thing. There's a reason why he's their No. 3 guy." Give credit to the Rangers' bullpen, too. Darren O'Day got Buster Posey to ground out softly with two outs and a runner on first to preserve a two-run lead in the eighth, and Neftali Feliz used his electric stuff to give Giants hitters basically no shot in the ninth while notching his first postseason save. During the first two games of this Series, the Giants went 13-for-26 with runners in scoring position. But in this one, they barely even got a chance, going 0-for-2. "I think we still have to stick with our approach -- just go up there and try to hit the ball as hard as you can," Ross said. "It doesn't matter if it's a 15-hopper up the middle, if you hit it hard or if it's 450 feet in the stands. As long as you hit the ball hard and try to make something happen, that's the approach that we're taking." That's a good one to take. But can a team that is so reliant on the home run continue to execute that? From the start of September until the end of the regular season -- when they had assembled all the pieces that would eventually make them National League champions -- the Giants led the league in homers (39), but were tied for 11th in batting average (.235). Saturday's effort certainly wasn't what the Giants and their fans were hoping for. But perhaps it's what the rest of America expected, considering it's no secret this team relies heavily on its pitching staff and there wasn't much debate heading in that the Rangers had the edge offensively (though by how much was up in the air). During the season, the Giants' offense ranked ninth in the NL in runs and tied for ninth in on-base percentage. Heading into this game -- and despite inspiring performances in the first two World Series contests -- they were batting .246 with eight homers and 47 RBIs in the playoffs. The Rangers, meanwhile, came in batting .273 with 17 homers and 62 RBIs. On Saturday, that showed. "[Bullpen] did a nice job of keeping us in the game and giving us a chance to get back in it," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "but we just didn't mount many rallies because they pitched well." Bochy now faces a dilemma for Game 4: What does he do about Burrell? When asked about it on Saturday night, he said: "I don't know. I'll talk about it once I get back."
And when Burrell was asked about the potential of being benched due to his struggles, the righty slugger didn't offer much argument."I'd be disappointed, of course. You want to play. Could I blame [Bochy]? Probably not," said Burrell, batting .158 in the playoffs. "I'm not exactly swinging the bat really well, and this is a terribly important time for our team. I'll show up ready to play, and we'll see."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Gonzo and 'The Show'. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.