5 Things to Watch for in a Rematch of the 2010 World Series: Giants vs. Rangers
In 2010, the Giants and the Rangers squared off in an epic battle determining the baseball champion. San Francisco's elite pitching staff squared off against Texas' elite hitting core, and nobody knew what to expect.
Until the Giants dominated and took the series in 5 games.
San Francisco celebrated on November 1 in a sunny stadium in Arlington, Texas. San Francisco's ace, Tim Lincecum, allowed just one run in 8 innings, and Brian Wilson pitched a perfect ninth to record the save.
And the Giants were champions.
These two teams haven't met since Game 5 of the World Series, and there will be a lot of talk about the 2010 World Series when San Francisco meets Texas. Plus, there will be a lot of things to look out for.
Here are five things to watch for in the Giants-Rangers series.
Tim Lincecum's Performance
The last time Tim Lincecum pitched against the Rangers, he got the win while the Giants secured their first championship in 56 years.
However, the Giants' ace is currently in the midst of a slump, and playing Texas won't help.
Lincecum is 2-6 with a 5.83 ERA this year, which is certainly not up to par for someone considered to be one of baseball's top pitchers. He won't be able to take a break against Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and the Rangers, who will be hungry for a win on Sunday, June 10.
While Lincecum went 2-0 against the Rangers in the World Series, he isn't the same pitcher he was then. He isn't hitting spots as well and he isn't consistently hitting 95 mph. He will need to pick up the slack on Sunday.
He pitched very well against Josh Hamilton and he did pretty well against Nelson Cruz, in addition to pitching well against the rest of the lineup, during the World Series.
While I wouldn't expect Lincecum to be feasted on, I also wouldn't expect him to dominate.
This will be very interesting to watch for as Lincecum looks to turn the tide in his horrific season.
San Francisco's Outfield Production
So far, the Giants' outfield has been amazing.
Melky Cabrera has emerged as an MVP candidate, Angel Pagan has emerged as a great outfielder and on-base guy, and Gregor Blanco has emerged as a great leadoff hitter and outfielder. Overall, these three guys have been great this year.
Against Texas, they will have to continue to dominate. Texas has a solid pitching staff in addition to a great offense which will be hitting balls into the outfield. San Francisco's outfielders must make every play and do whatever they can to prevent extra-base hits.
On offense, they'll need to continue to get hits. Cabrera has a .364 batting average, which is first in the National League. He has continued to get on base, although his teammates have stranded him on base a lot.
Pagan has struggled with runners on base, as his tendency to "over-swing" with guys on base has hurt the team. Against Texas, San Francisco will need every run they can get, so Pagan will need to knock in runs and stop stranding runners.
Gregor Blanco hasn't had much of a problem stranding guys on base, and has recently shown some power. He has hit a homer in each of the Giants' last two games, and he has 12 RBI and a .288 batting average.
Overall, this shouldn't be much of a problem. However, San Francisco will need their outfielders to continue to produce if they want to succeed against the two-time AL champs.
Texas Rangers Pitching Staff
The Rangers are still a powerhouse, but their pitchers are struggling mightily.
Soon, Neftali Feliz will come back and Roy Oswalt will debut as a Ranger. However, until then, Texas must use Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando, who will both pitch against the Giants.
Ogando did very well as a starter in 2011, and since he is going up against the struggling Tim Lincecum, the Rangers have a very good chance of winning on Sunday. However, Feldman and Matt Harrison could struggle.
Despite his 7-3 record, Matt Harrison has a 4.37 ERA and has been inconsistent this season. Barry Zito is on the hill against Harrison, and he has a 2.98 ERA and a record of 5-2. The numbers favor Zito, who is having a great year.
On Saturday, Ryan Vogelsong faces Scott Feldman. Feldman is 0-4 with a 7.01 ERA, and in his last start, he gave up 8 runs in 1.2 innings. Vogelsong is 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA, which is tied for sixth in the MLB.
You can decide who has the advantage.
The Rangers' pitchers will have to step up, or else the team will struggle and the batters will be pressured to score a lot of runs against San Francisco's dominant staff.
The bottom line is this: Texas must get good production from their starters.
Texas won the American League in 2011, and they are struggling right now. The media has been all over the Rangers this year, and playing a team as hot as the Giants will help.
San Francisco dominated in the World Series, outscoring the Rangers 29-13 in the five games. However, San Francisco doesn't have Juan Uribe, Edgar Renteria, Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, or Andres Torres. They are all guys who caused Texas trouble (except for Burrell).
The Rangers don't have Cliff Lee anymore, and Colby Lewis and Yu Darvish both won't start this series. The media, who has been all over Darvish, won't be as intrigued with Darvish not starting, but the hot bats of Melky Cabrera and Josh Hamilton will draw attention.
No matter what happens, the media will be all over this series.
San Francisco's Pitchers Against Texas' Offense
Ah, yes. The big question heading into the World Series.
San Francisco's pitching had dominated Atlanta and Philadelphia's offenses, but the Rangers offense was at a whole new level. Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Elvis Andrus, and the rest of the Rangers were swinging the bat really well.
But against the Giants, they were shut down.
Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong didn't pitch in the World Series, but both have low ERA's this year. Lincecum gave up 4 runs in 5.2 innings in Game 1 of the World Series, and 1 run in 8 innings in Game 5. He'll need to pitch like he did in Game 5 to net the Giants a win on Sunday.
Texas has the most runs in the major leagues, while San Francisco has the third-lowest team ERA in the MLB. One will have to fall at the hand of the other, and most are expecting San Francisco's pitching to prevail.
You'll have to watch the games to find out.