After being shut out by the San Francisco Giants in World Series Game 4 on Halloween night, the Texas Rangers now stand perched upon the precipice of defeat as they trail the best-of-seven series three games to one.
On a night when two former presidents, George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. participated in throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, the Rangers were held scoreless by Giant's rookie left-hander, Madison Bumgarner, and fiercely bearded closer, Brian Wilson.
Bumgarner, 21-years-and-91-days-old, became the fourth youngest pitcher in baseball history to win a World Series start. He followed in the footsteps of his more experienced, fellow Giant starters with another in a series of strong postseason starts from the men in black and orange.
With their 4-0 victory over the Rangers, San Francisco took a commanding 3-to-1 lead, the 45th time in World Series history that a team has done so. In the previous 44 occurrences in which a team took a 3-to-1 lead, the leading team went on to win the series 38 times. The last time a team rebounded from such a deficit was the Kansas City Royals, when they returned from the edge of agony to overtake the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 Fall Classic.
Over eight strong innings, Bumgarner allowed only three singles, two walks and no runs, while striking out six in his commanding performance. He benefited from strong defensive backing, receiving spectacular glove work from second-baseman Freddy Sanchez and left-fielder Cody Ross to stifle the Rangers offense.
The Rangers' starter, Tommy Hunter, became the first pitcher in postseason history to have three consecutive starts of four innings or fewer. His outing wasn't terrible, as he threw strikes and only allowed two earned runs on five hits and one walk, but the hook for him was quick as the Rangers found themselves down early in Game 4. Ron Washington turned to his bullpen to keep his team in the game, but they weren't able to shut down the Giants, who added two more runs, though they already had enough for the victory from Aubrey Huff's third inning two-run home run.
In addition to Huff's deep drive off Hunter, rookie catcher, Buster Posey hit his first career postseason home run in the eighth to seal the 4-0 victory. The San Francisco offense was paced by shortstop Edgar Renteria and center fielder Andres Torres who each had three hits. Everyone else, aside from those four Giants, were held hit-less.
Facing a difficult road ahead, the Rangers have one more chance at home in Arlington to prolong the series and send it back to San Francisco. In the must-win Game 5 on Monday evening, Cliff Lee will be looking to exact revenge for the beating San Francisco laid upon him in Game 1. Lee's only career playoff loss, in which he allowed seven runs, six of them earned, will surely serve as motivation as he looks to extend the Rangers' season for at least one more game.
While we wait for Game 5's action, let's review the Rangers' performance in Game 4 and see where it all went wrong.