Game three of the World Series is in the books and the Texas Rangers are finally on the board.
A Mitch Moreland three-run home run, a solo shot from ALCS MVP Josh Hamilton, and solid pitching from starter Colby Lewis helped the Rangers put a 4-2 win in the books in Arlington on Saturday night.
After two demoralizing losses in San Francisco, fans here in Texas wondered if the Rangers were capable of coming back and tying the series.
When the offense went dormant on Thursday night, a collective fan base dropped their heads and didn't know if they were ever going to be able to pick them back up again. The team wasn't hitting, they were making mistakes, and their bullpen was just short of awful.
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On Saturday afternoon, as fans began to file into the stadium, they wanted to believe that their team wasn't ready to quit. They wanted to believe that there was still a little magic left in the Rangers' tank and they were hoping they would see that come out in game three.
When Moreland lined his three-run shot to right, the fans exploded. It was the first time in three games they were really able to cheer for anything at all. It was the first time they were able to really throw their hands up, yell, and scream.
It was also the first time their team had a lead since game one. They wanted this win, they needed this win, and they got it.
Lewis came in on Saturday night and did exactly what the team needed him to do. But not only that, the bullpen did their job as well. Darren O'Day came in to the game in the eighth inning, an inning that has plagued the Rangers through the first two games, and although it was scary, he got the job done.
Then, in the ninth, it was Neftali Feliz who shut the door on the Giants and made it look easy although it was his first World Series appearance in his career.
With one win under their belt, the Rangers and their fans can rest a little bit easier, knowing that a small chunk of the Giants' lead is gone.
But with one win comes even more challenges and even more obstacles this team will have to overcome.
They will need to keep themselves grounded. They will need to keep themselves from getting too high on the performance they put in game three. They have a job to do and they still have ground to make up.
Scheduled to go to the mound on Sunday is right-hander Tommy Hunter, a guy who has struggled throughout the playoffs.
That has brought up a whole new set of questions, actually just one question and one that was asked by the media to manager Ron Washington during his post game press conference after game three.
"Ron, is there any thought to bringing Cliff Lee back on short rest to start game four?" Ron's answer was a simple, "no."
That question was asked again during the post game show on Fox Channel 4 here in Dallas. The answer to that is simple. Lee's numbers when pitching on short rest are not good and his performance in game one was not enough to think he'd be any better in a ballpark that plays smaller than AT&T Park in San Francisco.
On one hand, I understand why the question came up and I understand those who think Lee should go on three days rest. However, if you lose game four, then you're almost forced to come back with C.J. Wilson also on three days rest. You put yourself in a bad situation that way.
Going with Tommy Hunter will give him the confidence to go out there and do what he needs to do to get the job done. This Giants' offense is a potent one without question, but they're not unbeatable.
Hunter needs to trust his stuff, he needs to trust that he can get the job done, and he needs to trust the guys behind him. Throw first pitch strike, keep the ball away from the middle of the plate, and throw the right pitches at the right time.
If he can do that and if he can keep his confidence up for at least six innings, he can allow his bullpen to do the rest.
The Rangers got their first win, but they're a long ways from climbing back in this series. This is a good Giants' ball club and they're not going to give up wins. They'll continue to fight all the way through and not give you an inch.
You hate to use the old cliche but it's one the Rangers need to use starting Sunday night. "One game at a time, one win at a time."
Take care of tomorrow, get the win, then worry about what comes next. If they do that, they won't have to play with their backs against the wall.
Get yourself back into this series, than go and take control of it.
The Texas Rangers have their destiny in their own hands and they know exactly how to handle things from here. As long as they do what they're capable of doing and putting together the kind of effort we saw from them in the ALCS against the New York Yankees, this series won't be just tied up, but the Rangers will have the lead going back to San Francisco.
The 2010 World Series isn't over yet. It's only just begun.
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