Apparently, the age-old axiom "quality pitching beats good hitting," so often quoted in regards to postseason baseball, is true after all.
The 2010 San Francisco Giants, a team full of self-proclaimed misfits and recent castoffs from other franchises, have thoroughly defeated the Texas Rangers in five games to claim the first World Series title since the Giants franchise moved to the West Coast from New York following the 1957 season.
Texas, with its power-laden, American League-style lineup boasting several great hitters, was supposed to present a mighty challenge to the pitching-rich yet occasionally offensively-deficient Giants.
In addition to the dynamic offense, Texas' pitching staff is led by modern postseason hero Cliff Lee, a man who has recently been compared to all-time greats Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson. The Giants were supposed to have no chance.
Though the Giants' position players may not pack the name-brand recognition or impressive statistics on the back of their baseball cards, they combined with a stellar San Francisco pitching staff to overwhelm a Texas team that never really got going in the World Series.
Game 5's pitching matchup pitted each team's ace against one another in a rematch of Game 1's starters, two of the best hurlers in the game today. Tim Lincecum of the Giants and Texas' Cliff Lee have won three Cy Young awards between them since 2008. In Game 1, neither ace was sharp, and Lee was handed the first loss of his postseason career, as the Giants got to Texas' lefty for a playoff career-worst seven runs.
After Game 1's pitching duel never truly materialized, most baseball people expected Game 5 to be a finely pitched affair, as the two aces looked to revert to their top form. Lincecum and his mates smelled blood in the water and preferred to finish out the series quickly, never allowing Texas reason to dream. Lee, on the other hand, desperately needed to pitch his team to victory in an effort to send the series back to San Francisco for a potential Game 6.
As it turned out, the contest lived up to the hype, as both hurlers traded zeroes until the seventh inning. Only a dramatic seventh-inning, three-run homer from unexpected World Series MVP Edgar Renteria would tarnish the pitching line of Texas' ace Lee. Lincecum would allow a solo blast to Texas' Nelson Cruz in the same frame.
San Francisco's crisp 3-1 victory brought elation to Northern California's Bay Area and, conversely, agony to those denizens of Arlington, forced to watch the Giants' joyous celebration on their home turf.
Instead of returning to San Francisco for another do-or-die game, the Rangers will now have time to mull their shortcomings and craft their plans for 2011.
With the 2010 Major League season now history, as baseball fans, we're already casting a hopeful eye toward next year, but for now, let's grade the Texas Rangers' performance in their fateful Game 5 of the World Series.