Not here to make excuses for the Rangers' loss last night in Game 1 of the World Series, a game they were favored to win fairly comfortably.
The Giants came out swinging the bats like they hadn't all year and went from averaging three runs per game this season to scoring 11, seven of which were charged to the unhittable, ninja master Cliff Lee.
The Rangers were beaten by the Giants. They also kind of beat themselves at points too.
But I'll say it again, just to make it clear, the Rangers were spanked by the Giants in every facet of the game. But on to Game 2.
First off, Michael Young has had obvious troubles at third base since being moved there last season to make way for Elvis Andrus at shortstop. Young was hesitant to move, and understandably so. I love Michael Young. He's the face of the Rangers franchise and he is the unquestioned leader of the team who is one of the best hitters to come around in quite some time. But last night once again proved he's overmatched at third base. His error in the third inning should've resulted in an out to lead off the inning. Instead, the leadoff man was on and the Giants went on to score two runs in that inning to tie the game.
But Young's error wasn't the only mistake in the game, and not all of the mistakes will show up in the box score like Young's, Andrus' error and Vladimir Guerrero's two errors in the same inning.
That brings us to the Vlad question. Entering the series, Ron Washington said he'd start Vlad in right field in Game 1, where he started one-tenth of the Rangers games this year (the rest at designated hitter, which isn't allowed in National League parks). And his Game 2 presence, as a right fielder or a bat coming off the bench, would be determined by his Game 1 performance. Well, that was a mixed bag. At the plate, Vlad hit the ball harder than probably anyone else in the lineup in Game 1. He's still one of the most feared bats in baseball and he's been this team's cleanup hitter all season. In the field? Vomit. Vlad had two errors minutes apart from each other. One that was almost comical as he battled to pick the ball up in foul territory. Fortunately for him, the game was pretty out of hand at that point. If Vlad sits, you'll see David Murphy, a fan favorite whose bat was hotter than a summer day game over the last couple of months of the season. He's also a much better fielder than Vlad. I've gone back and forth on whether Vlad or Murphy should start, but I think where I am right now is this: You go with what got you here. Vlad's bat is still a huge threat and makes pitchers think twice. David Murphy doesn't do that. Vlad was respectable in the games he started in the outfield in the regular season. He had a horrible game last night. Stick him back out there. Is Andres Blanco going to play third base and sit Michael Young tonight? I'd guess not.
The next goat is Ron Washington himself. Everyone has their beef with the lovable, quotable skipper. He changes pitchers too often, he goes righty-lefty, lefty-righty too much at the plate, and vice versa with his pitchers. But last night, he had some head scratchers. Mitch Moreland was 2-for-3 at the plate, until he was pulled for Jorge Cantu to face a left-handed reliever! Why, Ron? Why? Cantu didn't see an ounce of time in the Yankees series after Moreland proved against Tampa Bay he deserved to be an everyday player. Of course, Cantu was quickly out in his one at-bat last night. Really odd decision there. Moreland hit .389 in the ALCS as an everyday player and drove in three runs from the 9-hole. Please don't give Cantu anymore ABs.
Ian Kinsler. Ugh. What makes Kinsler so great also gets him in trouble sometimes, and last night was no exception. In the eighth inning, he led off the inning with an infield single, but after an errant throw to Giants 1B Aubrey Huff, Kinsler made the turn to second thinking the ball had sailed past Huff. Oops. Huff caught the ball, got up and easily tagged out Kinsler. At that point it was 8-4. Way to kill a rally. Full disclosure: His play in, basically right field, that doubled up the Giants at second was pure greatness.
Now, we'll touch on a few positives and general questions about tonight's game.
Does Matt Treanor start tonight? He's been C.J. Wilson's personal catcher all year, so the safe bet is "yes". Treanor has been good. In his last start, against the Yankees, he homered in C.J.'s loss. But Bengie Molina is on a tear, and it continued last night in his former home ballpark with a 2-for-4 showing and a gunning down of a Giants base stealer — helped by a great defensive play by Kinsler, who blocked the bag like a catcher would home plate.
Nelson Cruz is on "Cruz Control". It's unbelievable that just a few years ago, this guy was the best "AAAA" player to ever live. Now, he's an All-Star and last night he tied the MLB postseason record for extra-base hits in a single postseason with 11 after his two-run double. One more, and he'll be in sole possession of that record.
The Rangers scored 7 runs on the Giants. That rarely happens. True, five of those runs came with a huge San Francisco lead, and the Giants' pitchers might have been a bit loose. But the way this Rangers team works, you have to believe that boosted their confidence heading into tonight's game. They also touched up Brian Wilson. Closers in games that are not close, usually aren't their sharp selves. But still. It's that mental edge that the Rangers might have now believing they can hit the dominant closer.
Alexi Ogando was electric. He was the one bright spot for the Rangers pitching staff on a night when not much went right when their Superman finally met his Kryptonite. Ogando has been good this postseason for the most part. He's had his moments of struggle, but two innings of one-hit ball was good to see, and his ball was moving, and moving at 98 miles per hour.