It's no secret San Francisco is basking in its NLCS glorious victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. You can't walk down a street in San Francisco without seeing someone with some sort of Giants merchandise.
The Giants Dugout Stores have lines flowing for, what seem like, miles. A person could walk from AT&T Park to the Ferry Building and back and the line would not have moved. Giants fever is extremely contagious.
But for all the fever, we have to remember there is still a series to be played. Game 1 is tomorrow night and the American League Champion Texas Rangers await.
Game 1: Tim Lincecum vs. Cliff Lee
Game 2: Matt Cain vs. C.J. Wilson
Game 3: Jonathan Sanchez vs. Colby Lewis
Game 4: Madison Bumgarner vs. Tommy Hunter
Game 5*: Tim Lincecum vs. Cliff Lee
Game 6-7*: TBD
How much will former Giants catcher Bengie Molina's knowledge of the San Fran pitchers help the Rangers? Probably not that much. Molina can tell them all he wants, but they still have to hit the ball.
Will Buster Posey and Pat Burrell begin to hit? Will Cody Ross continue his MVP type play? There are many questions to be answered, so let's start at the beginning.
The Game 1 matchup is the most intriguing because of the success of both pitchers. Cliff Lee has never lost in the postseason or to the Giants. Tim Lincecum has been his normal dominant self in the postseason.
In Lee's previous three starts against the Giants, he is 3-0 with a 1.12 ERA. Now, this Giants team is a much different team from the one he saw last year. That team was inept offensively and had no pop in the lineup.
If the Giants take a similar approach to Lee, as they did to Roy Halladay, they will fare pretty well against the Rangers.
The designated hitter, or lack thereof in San Francisco, will take its toll on Texas. In Game 1, they are starting Vladamir Guerrero in right field.
As most of the National League can attest, the right field at AT&T Park is like playing centerfield. Many have to play well toward the right centerfield gap to prevent anything from entering Triples Alley. With Vlad's limited range, this creates a significant advantage for the Giants.
Guerrero has been limited to only 61 at bats as the right fielder. In those 61 at bats, he had an average of .246 with a .767 OPS.
The Giants crowd will create all the home field advantage the team needs. The Texas Rangers have never won a game at AT&T Park, so if the Giants take Game 1 from Cliff Lee, they will carry that momentum to a 2-0 series lead heading to Arlington.
The Giants will struggle to contain the Rangers full lineup in Arlington. Guerrero will be back in his normal DH spot. Nelson Cruz will be able to get his arms extended against the Giants' two lefties in the rotation.
The Rangers have a predominately right-handed lineup which most would think favors Texas against Sanchez and Bumgarner. The answer to that is yes and no.
The Rangers have hit only .266 as a team against lefties (.280 against right-handers). Their OPS is nearly 60 points lower against lefties. But Ian Kinsler, Guerrero, Cruz and Michael Young all hit above .320 against left-handed pitching this year.
Sanchez has to lower his walk total, and Bumgarner needs to be weary of pitching to contact in their live ballpark.
Once going up 2-0 in the series, all the Giants have to do is win one game in Texas before bringing it home for Cain in Game 6. They would have to beat either Colby Lewis or Tommy Hunter, because I do not see the Giants beating Cliff Lee twice.
The Giants offense will have the task of doing just enough to win. What has been shocking about the Giants' run is the lack of power from the lineup. This is a lineup that has the ability to take a pitcher out of the yard but have, overall, failed to do so.
Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey and Andres Torres have all gone homer-less. The Giants have six as a team in 10 games. There has not been a time during the season where all three of these guys have failed to hit one out. This should change in this series.
Despite having not hit a home run, Torres is starting to swing the bat better, and Freddy Sanchez has started to swing a hot bat. The table setters are getting it done in front of Huff and Posey. It's up to them to get Torres and Sanchez in.
The bullpens have been very good as well.
This series will key on Brian Wilson and Javier Lopez. Lopez will be granted the singular task of shutting down Josh Hamilton. No one has yet to do it, but Lopez has already done it to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
Hamilton is just next in this list.
Wilson has his own brand of torture: let runners on base only to tightrope his way out of danger for the save. The Phillies were not hitting well going into the series with the Giants. The Rangers, on the other hand, lit up the Yankees rotation and may not leave potential runs stranded.
If the Giants can contain the opportunities of the Rangers, they will scratch and claw their way to four more one-run victories.
The stars will line up in the next week plus, and the monkey sitting on the Giants' back will be released. The Giants win this series 4-2.
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