Folks, it all starts tonight. The whole "It's Time" thing, that's coincidentally been the Rangers marketing pitch all year, is finally here.
The Red Shoed Rangers are in the World Series. Get excited!
And it starts, tonight at 6:57 p.m., with one whale of a pitching matchup.
You have a combined three Cy Young Awards going at it tonight, including the two-time defending NL Cy Young winner, Tim "The Freak" Lincecum. Then, there's Cliff Lee, who has cemented his name as the best postseason pitcher going, and possibly that the game has ever seen. A couple of wins in this series, and I think he'll have that title locked down.
Just how good is Cliff Lee? Well, he has an entire website devoted to his sheer awesomeness with all kinds of scientific facts such as "Cliff Lee's heart is a wi-fi hotspot" and "Cliff Lee can read Lady Gaga's poker face". I bet Tim Lincecum can't.
Enough science talk, let's get to baseball.
This matchup is what baseball purists dream of.
Just check the postseason stats:
Cliff Lee: 7-0 career in the postseason. In 2010, 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA, 34 strikeouts and ONE WALK.
Tim Lincecum: First postseason appearance, 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA, 30 strikeouts and five walks.
Lincecum, against the Braves in Game 1 of the NLDS, was spectacular. In fact, his 14 strikeout, 1 walk, complete-game shutout was believed by many statistical dorks to be more impressive than Roy Halladay's no-hitter in Game 1 of the Phillies-Reds series.
As crazy as I think that notion is, if it's true, I'd put Lee's performance in Game 3 of the ALCS right up there with it, as he fanned 13 and walked one while going eight innings of shutout ball against the most feared lineup in baseball. And he would've have gone back out for the ninth inning if not for the Rangers' offense exploding all over the Yankees' bullpen in the top of the ninth to score six more runs of insurance.
This game seriously has the makings of a 1-0 game that could last two hours and see the losing pitcher throw a three-hit complete game. The key for both teams will be jumping on the pitcher early. Both pitchers force you to swing early in the count. Cliff Lee relentlessly pounds the strike zone and dares you to hit him. Lincecum throws strikes and then starts going crazy with all of his filth later in counts.
In fact, Lincecum lets opponents hit .380 on him on the first two pitches of the count. After that? Might as well sit down, as opponents hit .180 on him.
But one thing is clear. The Freak can be run on. In fact, opponents have made good on 27 of 30 stolen base attempts this season. Of course, you have to get on base first, but with the way the Rangers have been aggressive on the basepaths look for that to play a factor.
Game 1 is always huge, but it's especially huge for the Giants. If they can somehow manage to beat Cliff Lee with their seemingly pedestrian offense, that would rock the Rangers' confidence a bit -- even as resilient as this team is. There's no secret that the Rangers rally around their left-handed machine gun and he's the most confident guy on this team. If he's beaten, it could be spell trouble.
Vegas makes the Rangers a decent favorite tonight, as well as in the whole series. If they're right, DFW will be the city celebrating its first World Series title, not San Francisco.
So you're wondering, what's my expert prediction?
I think if the Rangers win Game 1, they win in 5 in Arlington with Lee beating Lincecum once again. If they lose Game 1, I think it goes back to the Bay, and the Rangers win in 6. What do you think?
And remember, Tommy John is scheduled to have Cliff Lee Surgery on Thursday.