Newy Scruggs, Matt Barrie, NBCDFW.com
"Getcha head outcha butt, and let's play baseball tomorrow."
A great philosopher/baseball manager once said that in a postgame press conference.
Now that manager, Ron Washington, and his players must take that approach to today's Game 2 of the World Series after falling 11-7 in Game 1 and watching their ace, their postseason rock, Cliff Lee get battered and get pulled in the fifth inning.
There are plenty of reasons the Rangers lost Game 1 — Lee's control was uncharacteristically off. Michael Young still can't play third base. The reasons go on and on.
But yesterday is over. Today is here. As the Rangers have said all year, "It's time."
Harken back to the Tampa Bay series in the ALDS when the Rangers ran roughshod on the Ray in Games 1 and 2 in Tampa and came back home needing one win to take their first-ever postseason series. All was gravy. Then the Rangers dropped two home games and were forced back to Tampa to win a decisive Game 5. They did.
Remember just a couple of weeks ago? It was the biggest stage in Arlington baseball history. Game 1 of the ALCS vs. the hated Yankees. The Rangers cruise to a very comfortable lead, and C.J. Wilson is rolling on the mound. Then, the wheels fell off and the Yankees came back with one huge inning to take Game 1 and seemingly break the Rangers' back. Seemingly, that is, until they came back and took a 3-1 lead in the series before eventually winning in six.
The point of the story is, this team has shown an incredible resilience this postseason, not to mention the regular season when it overcame injuries to Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler, watched its two top pitchers entering the season fail miserably and dealt with questions about an experimentation with cocaine by their manager. None of that fazed them. This won't either.
That's not to say the Rangers are going to storm back and win tonight with ease, but it is saying they won't lie down dead because their confidence was shaken in Game 1.
Tonight, Wilson (1-1, one no-decision, 3.93 ERA in postseason) takes the mound after two spectacular postseason starts (Game 2 @ TB and Game 1 vs. NYY) before he got rocked in New York in Game 5 of that series when he was clearly amped up.
In fact, if C.J. has one problem, it's controlling his emotions. I guess it's the former closer in him. But he must remain calm tonight and go make his pitches and not try to be too perfect like he was in his last start. One thing Rangers fans can maybe take solace in is the fact that the Giants, who scored 11 runs in Game 1, averaged 3 runs per game this season. Another thing? The Giants pitchers certainly aren't accustomed to giving up 7 runs in a game, and the Rangers didn't make Tim Lincecum look fantastic either. They hit him pretty good and had him on the ropes in the early innings but could only muster one run each in the first two innings, leaving the bags full once.
Tonight, the Giants run Matt Cain (1-0, one no-decision, 0.00 ERA) to the mound. Cain is good. He's really good. In the postseason, it's fair to say he's been better than Lincecum. He threw a masterpiece against the Phillies. But again, a bright spot for Rangers fans is the Phillies lineup was struggling mightily before they faced Cain. This Rangers lineup is still the hottest lineup in baseball.
So, take notes here, if the Rangers come back and get a win with C.J. on the hill, they'll come back home with a 1-1 split, which is all you want in a series that you start on the road. They'd come back to Arlington for three straight and a chance to close out the series at home. Now, if the Rangers lose tonight and fall into an 0-2 hole, you can start worrying. But it's not over yet.
I'd say without doubt that Colby Lewis, the Game 3 starter is going much better than SF's Game 3 starter Jonathan Sanchez is right now. In Game 4, you roll out a slumping Tommy Hunter, who lost once at home this year, against a 21-year-old rookie who was called up late in the season. You roll the dice there. Then, you'd have Lee vs. Lincecum again in Game 5 with the thinking that the Giants' offense won't torch Lee twice in a matter of days — a pretty safe bet.
So there you have it. Don't freak out just yet.