The San Francisco Giants reduced the ultimate magic number in baseball to one. With a 4-0 victory over the Texas Rangers last night, the Giants are nine innings away from claiming their first World Series crown since 1954 when they were in New York.
Yesterday’s loss marked the second time the Rangers have been shut out by the Giants terrific pitching staff. In Game 2 Giants hurler Matt Cain was more than able, as he pitched a game for the ages in shutting out the Rangers, 9-0.
Last night, 21-year-old Madison Bumgarner had his turn and was simply electric. Bumgarner, who was 7-6 in his 18 starts this season, made Ranger hitters look like they were out to lunch.
Rangers slugger Vladimir Guerrero looked horrible on two of the three occasions Bumgarner struck him out. It was the first time all season Guerrero struck out three times.
Rangers manager Ron Washington stated the following in the postgame press conference about Bumgarner’s performance, "He threw real well tonight. He didn't throw one pitch at the same speed...The kid did a great job."
Bumgarner has this to say after his stellar Game 4 performance, "I try to tell myself all the time just to relax and take deep breaths, control the breathing. It helps me relax and stay calm and act like it's not a big deal."
The Giants appear to be focusing on the little things and paying attention to detail. The little things, in life and in sports, ultimately can determine success and failure. Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria, who collected three hits had this to say, "We focused on the little things. Every little thing that we’re supposed to do, we’re doing it."
With the Giants being up 3-1, it would seem that the fat lady is warming up those vocal chords. Is it time to declare this series over?
Not so fast my friend.
We have seen what the Rangers are capable of doing with their bats. They blasted my New York Yankees into submission in the ALCS; therefore, it is possible the Rangers can find their grove and make this a series.
Rangers ace Cliff Lee is on the bump tonight. In Game 1 the Giants made the seemingly invincible Lee look human. He came into Game 1 with a 7-0 career postseason record. After he showered and shaved, he was 7-1 as the Giants hit him all over the ball park with methodical precision.
At yesterday's postgame press conference, Lee suggested that he is ready to roll. When asked how he felt going into tonight’s pivotal matchup, Lee stated, “I’m gonna go out this time and expect to have success.”
If the Rangers are to stay alive, Lee must find success or they are done for the season.
Some wondered, myself included, why Lee didn’t pitch last night's game on three games rest. Rangers manager Ron Washington, who is vying to become the second African-American manager to win the World Series, never considered pitching Lee on three days rest.
Yesterday, the Rangers needed to win. Going into Game 1, Lee was pitching on nearly eight days rest. His Game 1 outing was only 4.2 innings. If you combine the nearly eight days of rest Lee had prior to Game 1 and the three days going into Game 4, Lee would be pitching two games on an average of five days rest.
Yesterday was a pivotal game to win. It seemingly would make sense to have your best starter on the mound when you need a game the most. Washington electing to not even consider Lee to start last night's game was a very questionable decision indeed.
Giants ace Tim Lincecum will get the ball tonight. Both teams will have their best pitchers going into tonight’s game. Without question, both pitchers give their teams the best chance to win.
Will Lincecum deliver the championship to his Giants, or will Lee reclaim his dominant postseason form and keep the Rangers alive?
Tonight we shall see. Stay tuned.