Tag: World Series

Pat Burrell rejoins Giants lineup, but not as cleanup hitter


Here are the lineups for Game 5 of the World Series:

   GIANTS                         RANGERS
1. Andres Torres, RF           1. Elvis Andrus, SS
2. Freddy Sanchez, 2B          2. Michael Young, 3B
3. Buster Posey, C             3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Cody Ross, LF               4. Vladimir Guerrero, DH
5. Juan Uribe, 3B              5. Nelson Cruz, RF
6. Aubrey Huff, 1B             6. Ian Kinsler, 2B
7. Pat Burrell, DH             7. David Murphy, LF
8. Edgar Renteria, SS          8. Bengie Molina, C
9. Aaron Rowand, CF            9. Mitch Moreland, 1B

While the Rangers are going with their now-standard playoff lineup versus right-handed pitching, the Giants have made several changes.

Pat Burrell rejoins the lineup after sitting out Game 4, but does so while in the No. 7 spot after previously hitting fourth or fifth throughout the postseason. Burrell is just 6-for-38 (.158) with 19 strikeouts in the playoffs, but manager Bruce Bochy still wants his right-handed bat in there versus left-hander Cliff Lee.

Burrell serving as the designated hitter opens up an outfield spot for another right-handed hitter, Aaron Rowand, to make his first start since Game 4 of the NLCS. That moves Andres Torres to right field and gives the Giants a very strong defensive outfield to support Tim Lincecum. Oh, and Cody Ross is now the cleanup hitter for a team one victory from winning the World Series, which is easily the craziest sentence I’ve typed all season.

Ron Washington has used Neftali Feliz in a close game just once all postseason

Neftali Feliz

Last night I criticized Ron Washington for allowing a two-run deficit to turn into a blowout loss while closer Neftali Feliz sat in the bullpen unused, but it was far from the first time the Rangers’ manager has failed to get his best reliever into a close game.

In fact, Game 3 of the ALDS versus the Rays is the only time this entire postseason that Washington has actually brought Feliz into a close game.


Here are the circumstances of Feliz’s other four playoff appearances:

• Game 1 of the ALDS: He pitched the ninth inning with a four-run lead.

• Game 2 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with a five-run lead.

• Game 3 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with an eight-run lead.

• Game 6 of the ALCS: He pitched the ninth inning with a five-run lead.

Feliz was one of the elite relievers in baseball this season, posting a 2.73 ERA, .176 opponents’ batting average, and 71/18 K/BB ratio in 69 innings. Yet because Washington is focused on managing his bullpen around the save statistic Feliz has pitched in just five games all postseason and four of those appearances came when the Rangers had a lead of at least four runs.

And there have certainly been no shortage of key late-game spots where Washington could have called on Feliz, beginning with the eerily similar eighth-inning bullpen implosions in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Yankees and Game 2 of the World Series last night. In both of those vital situations Feliz went unused and the Rangers let games slip away while Washington turned to just about every other reliever in the bullpen.

Texas has played 14 playoff games and Feliz has faced a grand total of 20 batters, just four of which came in a close game. To put that ridiculous usage into some context, consider that Darren Oliver has faced 32 batters while appearing three more times than Feliz. Heck, even Darren O’Day (19 batters faced) and Alexi Ogando (18 batters faced) have been used nearly as much and in more crucial situations than Feliz.

Instead of doing everything he possibly can to save the Rangers’ season Washington has been more focused on holding his best reliever back for so-called “save” situations that may never arrive.

Blister unlikely to keep C.J. Wilson from Game 6 start, but super glue may get him in trouble

cj wilson blister

C.J. Wilson was forced out of his Game 2 start in the seventh inning by a blister on his left middle finger, explaining afterward that it “just ripped open” and kept him from being able to “throw anything beside the curveball for a strike” to Cody Ross, who walked leading off the inning.

Wilson explained after the game that he’s been pitching through blister problems for much of the season and promised to be “fine” for his potential Game 6 start Wednesday in San Francisco.

He also revealed that he used super glue to keep the blister closed in the early innings last night, which as David Brown of Yahoo! Sports notes could be something with which the umpires take issue.

Brown recalled that Zach Day of the then-Expos was ejected from a game in 2003 for having super glue on a blister, with umpire Bill Miller explaining at the time: “He had a foreign substance on his person and that means he is in violation of this rule.” And sure enough, under rule 8.02 (b) “a pitcher is automatically ejected if he is found with any foreign substance on his fingers.”

Miller is coincidentally also on the World Series umpiring crew, so presumably he’ll take an added interest in Wilson’s blister if the left-hander is on the mound for Game 6.

Pitchers’ duel turns into a laugher as Giants take 2-0 lead


You wouldn’t know it by the lopsided 9-0 final score, but Game 2 of the World Series was actually an outstanding pitchers’ duel for six-and-half innings Thursday night. Seriously.

Matt Cain extended his postseason scoreless streak to 21.1 innings with his third straight gem and C.J. Wilson nearly matched him pitch for pitch before exiting with a blister on his left middle finger. At that point Edgar Renteria had produced the game’s only run by homering off Wilson as the latest unlikely source of offense for the Giants’ grind-it-out lineup.

And then Texas’ bullpen imploded, allowing seven runs in the eighth inning, all of them with two outs.

This bullpen mess was different than Game 1 of the ALCS because the Rangers were already down by the time the musical relievers started, but just like he did against the Yankees manager Ron Washington let the game slip away in the eighth inning while using just about every pitcher in the bullpen except his best guy, closer Neftali Feliz.

Feliz sat by as Derek Holland came into a 2-0 game and walked three straight batters, forcing in the Giants’ third run. And when Washington mercifully removed Holland from the game to bring in a fresh arm it was Mark Lowe, who missed nearly the entire season with a back injury and was only added to the World Series roster after sitting out the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Lowe promptly followed Holland’s lead by walking in the Giants’ fourth run, gave up a single to make it 6-0, and then gave way to another reliever, rookie Michael Kirkman, who allowed back-to-back extra-base hits to make it 9-0. And all because Washington held back his best reliever–who hadn’t worked in six days and gets another day off Friday–for a “save” situation that never arrived.

Would the Rangers have been able to rally for two runs off Giants closer Brian Wilson? Probably not, but that comeback was at least within the realm of possibility had Feliz wriggled out trouble rather than the no-name trio of Holland, Lowe, and Kirkman turning the game into a blowout.

We’ll never know how things would have turned out had San Francisco taken a two-run lead into the ninth inning, but here’s what we do know: Texas is in an 0-2 hole and the last 13 teams to lose the first two games on the road have gone on to lose the World Series. They’ll have to win at least two of three in Texas to send things back to AT&T Park … where the Rangers are now 0-11 all time.

Somewhat lost in Cain’s brilliance and Washington’s bullpen mismanagement is that the Giants have now scored 20 runs in two games, which is remarkable for a team that ranked 17th in runs per game during the regular season. They now have nine wins this postseason and in seven of those games they faced a pitcher who ranked among MLB’s top 27 in ERA with a mark of 3.35 or lower: Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt (twice), Tim Hudson, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and now C.J. Wilson.

Game 3 opponent Colby Lewis wasn’t among those ERA leaders, but he’ll provide another very tough test for the Giants’ offense after shutting down the Yankees in Game 6 of the ALCS. San Francisco will counter with Jonathan Sanchez, whose 3.07 ERA put him in that top-27, but the control-challenged southpaw lasted just two innings against the Phillies in Game 6 of the NLCS after back-to-back strong starts to begin the playoffs.

For the Rangers to get back into the series they simply need Lewis to come up big again, but for the Rangers to win the series they’ll also need Washington to cease being dramatically out-managed by Bruce Bochy.