SAVED FROM SHAQTIN’ By Arthur George-Special to BASN JaVale McGee is reclaiming...
Finally, it’s the Fall Classic
Season Series: Did not play.
Rangers: SS Elvis Andrus (.265, 0 HRs, 35 RBIs, 88 runs, 32/47 SBs), 3B Michael Young (.284, 21, 91, 99 runs, career-high 115 strikeouts), CF Josh Hamilton (major league-leading .359, 32, 100), RF Vladimir Guerrero (.300, 29, 115), LF Nelson Cruz (.318, 22, 78 in 108 games), 2B Ian Kinsler (.286, 9, 45), C Bengie Molina (.240, 2, 19 in 57 games since acquired from San Francisco), 1B Mitch Moreland (.255, 9, 25 in 47 games since called up from Triple-A on July 29).
Giants: CF Andres Torres (.268, 16, 63, 26 SBs), 2B Freddy Sanchez (.292, 7, 47), 1B Aubrey Huff (.290, 26, 86), C Buster Posey (.305, 18, 67 after being called up from minors May 29), LF Pat Burrell (.266, 18, 51, signed to minor league deal May 29 after release by Tampa Bay and called up from Triple-A on June 4), RF Cody Ross (.269, 14, 65 with Florida and Giants), 3B Juan Uribe (.248, 24, 85), SS Edgar Renteria (.276, 3, 22 in 72 games).
Rangers: LH Cliff Lee (12-9, 3.18 ERA, 7 CGs in 28 starts, 185 Ks, 18 walks, 212 1-3 innings; 4-6, 3.98 in 15 starts after acquired from Seattle on July 9), LH C.J. Wilson (15-8, 3.35, 3 CGs in 33 starts), RH Colby Lewis (12-13, 3.72 in career-high 201 innings), RH Tommy Hunter (13-4, 3.73).
Giants: RH Tim Lincecum (16-10, 3.43, 231 Ks), RH Matt Cain (13-11, 3.14, 177 Ks), LH Jonathan Sanchez (13-9, 3.07, 205 Ks, career-high 193 1-3 innings), LH Madison Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00, 86 Ks in 18 starts as rookie).
Rangers: RH Neftali Feliz (4-3, 2.37, MLB rookie-record 40 saves in 43 chances), RH Darren O’Day (6-2, 2.03 in 72 games), RH Alexi Ogando (4-1, 1.30 in 44 games), LH Darren Oliver (1-2, 2.48 ERA in 64 games), LH Derek Holland (3-4, 4.08 in 14 games, 10 starts), LH Clay Rapada (0-0, 4.00 in 13 games after September call-up), LH Michael Kirkman (0-0, 1.65 in 14 games after Aug. 20 recall).
Giants: RH Brian Wilson (3-3, 1.81, major league-best 48/53 saves), RH Ramon Ramirez (1-0, 0.67, 1 save), LH Javier Lopez (4-2, 2.34), LH Jeremy Affeldt (4-3, 4.14, 4 saves), RH Santiago Casilla (7-2, 1.95, 2 saves), RH Sergio Romo (5-3, 2.18).
Rangers make it four times in six seasons that a team is playing in its first World Series. Previous three all lost in five games or fewer: Houston (2005), Colorado (2007) and Tampa Bay (2008). … Giants haven’t won World Series since upsetting Cleveland Indians in 1954, when Willie Mays and Co. played at Polo Grounds in New York. Club moved to San Francisco for 1958 season, three years before Rangers franchise began play as expansion Washington Senators. Team moved to Texas, with Ted Williams as manager, and changed name in 1972. Rangers make first World Series appearance in franchise’s 50th season. … Giants lead all-time series against Texas 15-7 and have won last seven meetings (2001-09). Rangers have lost 11 in a row in San Francisco, where they are 2-12. … Rangers and Giants both hit 162 home runs during regular season, averaging one per game. In playoffs, Texas had 17 in 11 games and Giants hit six in 10 games. … Lee is 3-0 with 1.13 ERA in three career starts against San Francisco while holding Giants to .159 batting average. He has 21 strikeouts and four walks in 24 innings, and threw complete game against them on July 31, 2009, his first start for Philadelphia after being traded from Cleveland. … Molina was Giants’ starting catcher for 3 1/2 seasons until they traded him to Texas on July 1. That cleared the way in San Francisco for rookie Posey to be everyday catcher. Molina hit .276 with 58 home runs and 273 RBIs in 472 games for the Giants. …
Guerrero is .330 career hitter against Giants, with nine homers and 31 RBIs in 62 games. He was primarily DH this season, playing only 18 games in outfield. He’s likely to move back to old spot in right during games in San Francisco, where NL rules prohibit DH. Bad knees from all those years on hard turf in Montreal have slowed him, and right field in San Francisco can be tricky, with some odd angles and long runs. Look for strong-armed Jeff Francoeur to play RF against left-handed starters back home in Texas. … Giants can use switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval at DH in Texas. His production dropped off dramatically this season, but “Kung Fu Panda” is still dangerous at plate. … Oliver, 40, was a starter and the loser when Texas lost 8-3 to San Francisco on June 12, 1997, in baseball’s first interleague game. He allowed four runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings. … Giants have home-field advantage in World Series because NL won All-Star game in July, first victory over AL since 1996.
The Big Picture
Rangers: Texas (90-72) won its fourth AL West title and first since 1999, taking over first place for good June 8 and leading division for 154 days in all. … Going into playoffs, Texas was only current major league franchise that hadn’t won a playoff series. Rangers had never won a playoff game at home, either. Then they beat Tampa Bay, which had AL’s best record during regular season, in five games in first round when road team won every game — a first in major league history. Texas blew late lead at home to wild-card Yankees in ALCS opener but won Game 2 at Rangers Ballpark to snap 10-game postseason losing streak to New York.
Rangers clinched first World Series berth with Game 6 victory at home before 51,404 frenzied fans under Friday night lights. Texas was eliminated from postseason by Yankees in previous three appearances — 1996, 1998 and ’99. … After Hamilton went 2 for 18 with two singles in division series, he was ALCS MVP, hitting .350 (7 for 20) with four home runs, seven RBIs and eight walks (five intentional, three in Game 6). … Cruz also hit .350 in ALCS, with three doubles and two homers.
He hit three homers in first round. … Guerrero’s only three RBIs in ALCS came in Game 6. … After not starting ALCS opener, Moreland went 7 for 18 (.389) with three RBIs while starting final five games. …
Season began with team for sale, a drawn-out process that included bankruptcy before Hall of Fame pitcher and team president Nolan Ryan’s group finally won auction in mid-August with bid valued at $590 million to buy club from Tom Hicks. There also was manager Ron Washington’s admission in spring training that he used cocaine once during 2009 season. Washington offered to resign, but Ryan and general manager Jon Daniels stuck by him last year and again when it became public. Rangers have increased win total each year under Washington, who is in fourth season. … Despite financial constraints, Texas acquired Lee from Seattle when it looked as though he was headed to Yankees. Daniels also made midsea son deals for Molina, Francoeur and Jorge Cantu. … Daniels and Ryan have transformed team known for power hitting and poor pitching into athletic club with quality arms. Just look at how Rangers beat Rays and Yankees. … Team ERA of 3.93 was club’s lowest since 3.83 mark in 1990. … Rangers led majors with .276 batting average, though 162 home runs were their fewest since 1992. … Hamilton had MVP-caliber season, though he missed 24 games in September because of two broken ribs. … Cruz was limited to 108 regular-season games because of hamstring problems, but became only second major leaguer with five extra-inning homers. Three ended games, and his clutch hitting continued in playoffs. … Kinsler batting .342 with three homers and team-high nine RBIs in postseason. Andrus has sparked offense, stealing seven bases in playoffs, and Molina hit .333 with two homers and seven RBIs.
Giants: San Francisco (92-70) won NL West on season’s final day for first division title since 2003, then edged wild-card Braves in first round, with all four games decided by one run. Pitching-rich Giants upset two-time reigning NL champion Phillies in NLCS, clinching with Game 6 victory in Philadelphia for third one-run win of series. San Francisco was outscored 20-19 by Phillies. … San Francisco is back in World Series for first time since Barry Bonds and Co. came within six outs of title in Game 6 in 2002 against Angels, then lost Game 7 as well.
Franchise hasn’t won World Series since moving West — even with Hall of Famers such as Mays, Willie McCovey, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry. … Ross, the August pickup off waivers from Florida, emerged as surprising postseason star and won NLCS MVP honors. He had three homers, three doubles and five RBIs against Phillies, going 7 for 20 in series. … Giants have plenty of quality arms in bullpen and most have delivered under postseason pressure. Wilson saved five games in playoffs and did not allow an earned run in nine innings. He closed out Ryan Howard and Phillies in Game 6, capping outstanding effort by entire ‘pen. … San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy had lost 10 of 11 postseason games before this run, all with San Diego. He finally got over hump in fourth year managing Giants after team stayed in wild-card race until mid-September in 2009. … Giants made it this far in second full season of new managing partner Bill Neukom — the hands-on, bowtie-wearing, former Microsoft lawyer who replaced Peter Magowan. …
Lincecum, who came in for quick relief stint in Game 6 of NLCS on one day of rest, has been solid in his first postseason. He split two hyped-up matchups with Phillies ace Roy Halladay. … General manager Brian Sabean boosted lineup with acquisitions all season, bringing in Burrell and Jose Guillen and giving them second chances. Guillen, left off postseason roster because of neck injury, has been noticeably absent during this ru n. Lefty-hitting infielder Mike Fontenot came over from Cubs and played in some key games in place of Freddy Sanchez. There were two new bullpen additions at the trade deadline, too: Ramirez and Lopez. … Posey was called up in late May and initially put at first base to get his bat in lineup. Went back to his regular position at catcher after Molina was traded to Texas, and blossomed into leading contender for NL Rookie of the Year. … Lincecum lost five straight starts in August, then returned to top form. … Bochy had reputation for sticking with veterans in the past, but he benched CF Aaron Rowand and his $12 million salary in favor of unproven Torres, who sparked offense with speed and extra-base pop. Torres had emergency appendectomy Sept. 12 and missed 11 games.
What to watch for
Lee: For starters, it’s Lee again. This is the second straight year he will pitch the World Series opener, this time for Texas after winning Games 1 and 5 for Philadelphia last year against the Yankees. The free agent-to-be could easily wind up pitching for someone else next season, too. October ace is at his best under pressure, going 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight postseason starts. He has 67 strikeouts and seven walks in 64 1-3 innings during those outings.
Cody’s Ride: Ross, who aspired to be a rodeo clown until switching to baseball at age 10, has been San Francisco’s go-to guy in clutch situations. Can his tear at the plate continue? He’s one of a handful of postseason first-timers on this roster, including Huff and Freddy Sanchez.
Runnin’ Rangers: Texas is 15 of 17 on stolen base attempts this postseason, and will run to get things going. Andrus even scored on a double steal in Game 2 of the ALCS, becoming the first player to steal home in the postseason since 2002. Hamilton had four stolen bases in the playoffs, and the Rangers should have no problem playing by NL rules — they led the AL with 53 sacrifice bunts.
All The Right Moves: Bochy has used different combinations and substitution patterns to get the Giants this far. Whether it was starting Torres over Rowand in center field or sitting a struggling Sandoval in favor of playing Uribe at third and Renteria at shortstop, Bochy has displayed a perfect touch with this team.