World Series 2010: Ten Keys To Victory Tonight
The San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers will begin the 2010 World Series tonight. This Series has a much different feel to it for many baseball fans. Neither of these teams was expected to make it this far. In fact, many were banking on a 2009 World Series rematch between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. Yet, this pairing shows how baseball has evolved, especially in this month of October.
The Texas Rangers' deadly lineup and a horse in Cliff Lee gives them the obvious edge on paper. Though, these attributes alone cannot guarantee a World Series victory. Other starters will need to step in and help Lee as well. Even the bullpen will be important for Texas, especially if these games are close. To date, their bullpen has been awful this post-season.
The San Francisco Giants slayed a "giant" to get to the World Series. They defeated the defending two-time NL Champion Phillies. They put their own dynamic on the series and made quick work of Philadelphia. Their pitching has been solid all season long and now must be at their best.
10. Take Advantage Of Miscues
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
In the NLCS the Giants were consistently able to capitalize off of the Phillies' many mistakes. They will now need to do that again against Texas, only this time the mistakes will not be as plentiful. Especially in a Game 1 on the road, the Rangers will look to play flawlessly on the road as they have all post-season. There is little margin for error when starting out a series on the road and both teams know this all too well and were able to take advantage of it before.
The Giants need to ignite their home-crowd early and give them a lot to cheer about. They can't let Texas score first as they usually have thus far. This would help Texas take the early advantage in the series and could even make the crowd a non-factor.
In a match-up of this magnitude, one would expect the mistakes to be limited. In considering that Cliff Lee will be facing Tim Lincecum, there may not be any made at all. This will be a great way to start off this series. After tonight, someone will be up 1-0 and miscues could have a lot to do with it.
9. ATTENTION Hitters: Do NOT Focus on The Pitching Duel
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Tonight's duel between Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum has grabbed every headline and is inescapable for hitters. If they don't already know this, they will when they get to the plate. However, this alone can't be their main focus as they must look past this and get the big-time hit for their club.
This game may come down to a single play that occurs in the late innings. Who's looking to be the hero? That's a question that hitters must answer. The hero could be anyone from Josh Hamilton to Elvis Andrus for Texas. Or in the Giants' case, it can be Buster Posey or even Mark Fontenot. There's no telling who will deliver for their team tonight, but one sure bet is that someone will have to.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
The bullpens will play a major role in tonight's game. Even in a pitching match-up such as this one they may be called upon with the game on the line. Their job may be boring for seven innings or so then turn serious in an instant.
For San Francisco, Brian Wilson has been nearly un-hittable in these playoffs. All of the guys in front of him whether it's Javier Lopez or Sergio Romo have also been exceptional. With the way their games have been constantly close, many one-run games, their job shows through even more.
Texas' 'pen has been flat-out ugly in these playoffs thus far. It can't get much worse for them. Only fortunately they have not needed much out of them in terms of crucial situations. Their offense has ran away with some games for them and otherwise their starters were rather good.
7.Chip Away at Weaknesses
Though both are very good teams, they each have some glaring weaknesses that need to be exposed by the opponent. For Texas, they got to this point by exposing the mighty Yankees on the grand stage of the ALCS. The Giants were able to put the Phillies to rest early and keep them out of the World Series for the first time since 2007. Their flawless game-plan was executed fully to eliminate Philadelphia.
The Giants' weaknesses include inconsistency and their inability to hit the long ball. They instead opt to play for the run through small-ball and let their pitching do the work. Throughout much of the season they played inconsistently. Though this hasn't shown thus far in the playoffs, it's something that can't be neglected as the Series approaches.
The Rangers were a team with fewer weaknesses. Though, if one sticks out more than others it would have to be their inept bullpen. It could play a crucial factor in this series if they allow it to and will be needed to get big outs late in games.
6. Style Vs. Style
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Texas Rangers play for the long ball because everything is bigger in Texas. They also rely on grabbing early leads. The Rangers have smashed 17 homers in the playoffs so far. This must continue yet will be difficult against the top-notch Giant pitchers they'll be opposing.
The San Francisco Giants are the epitome of small ball. In their NLCS match-up with Philadelphia they ripped up the Phillies' plan and made the series their own. Through their pitching and timely hitting they won the series in convincing fashion. Cody Ross's two homers in Game 1 of that series were unfamiliar for them, but still they played their own style in that series and played for the run regardless.
Whichever team is able to put their style on display tonight and take Game 1 sets themselves up well. The outcome of the series won't necessarily be imperative to this game fully, but it should play an intricate role.
5. Score First
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The Rangers have been excellent at scoring first in the playoffs. When they do, they win, plain and simple. If they're able to get Cliff Lee a comfortable cushion tonight, expect victory and their nabbing of home-field.
The Giants constantly got out to early leads in the playoffs, but to them it's not as important. Time after time, their bullpen has bailed them out when games have gotten close and they can count on that once again.
The first runs are always critical, but perhaps more so in this series with a strike-first squad like Texas being the favorites.
4. Evolution Of Youth
The youngsters of the World Series will look to leave their mark forever. Guys like Buster Posey and Elvis Andrus have delivered for their teams all season and now need to do it on the biggest stage possible. Posey needs to have a solid Series and could avenge his so-so NLCS. Though again, he had a few big hits, particularly in Game 4 of that series, his presenece will be needed here.
Elvis Andrus could be the unsung hero of this Ranger bunch. Though he doesn't necessarily hit the long ball, his style atop the lineup is what they need. He compliments and balances out the rest of their hitters and a big Series could help his stock drastically.
3. Patience at The Plate
Who better to put in the picture of this slide than Vladimir Guerrero, perhaps the freest swinger in the world. Though one of the game's best hitters of this generation, and steroid-free to boot, Guerrero can't lay off those bad pitches. He and just about every other hitter in the line-ups tonight must be patient. The Rangers are facing Tim Lincecum, the Giants will have to hit Cliff Lee. These are tall orders and will start with being patient.
Making the pitcher throw strikes, especially Lee who attacks the strike-zone, could be something to plan for. Thus, two-strike hitting could play a major role in this game and the series as a whole. Patient hitting beats good/great pitching.
2. Shake The First-Time Jitters
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
For many players participating in this 2010 World Series, it will be their first time there. For the Texas Rangers' franchise, it's their first time ever competing in the World Series and they're the favorites going in. Both teams and their players will need to stay loose and not let the magnitude of the Series get to them.
Tonight especially, whichever team is able to harness their emotions and control the jitters can ride an early series win to a victory. So, in many ways, the first game is more important than one may think.
1. Dominant Start
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
What a year it's been for Cliff Lee. From the Philadelphia Phillies' 2009 World Series run to the Seattle Mariners and then to their division rival and in the 2010 World Series the Texas Rangers. He was dominant through it all despite a lack of run support along the way. He remains undefeated at 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his young playoff career.
Tim Lincecum has been impressive in his first post-season and has helped carry his Giants to a World Series appearance. Though, on the whole, it's not enough as they want to prove all the naysayers wrong and win.
Whoever can get the dominant start out of their ace will have an obvious edge tonight and in the series. Lee almost always wins Game 1 and Lincecum is the reigning two-time NL Cy Young Award winner. Should make for good TV on FOX tonight wouldn't you say?