Monday November 1st, 2010

ARLINGTON, Texas -- SI's Joe Lemire provided ongoing commentary and analysis throughout Sunday's World Series Game 4 between the Giants and Rangers.

For complete play-by-play, click here. For an updated box score, click here. For Joe Lemire's insider piece for Game 4, click here.

Some quick postgame notes as the Giants extended their World Series lead to 3-1:

• Giants Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey are the first all-rookie battery to start a World Series game since the Yankees' Spec Shea and Yogi Berra in Games 1, 5 and 7 in the 1947 ... though Shea turned 27 years old during that series.

• It was only the fifth time since 1995 that a pitcher has gone at least eight innings while allowing no more than three hits in a World Series game.

• At 21 years, 91 days old, Bumgarner is the fifth youngest pitcher to start a World Series and the second youngest with eight shutout innings. Only Jim Palmer for the Orioles in 1966 was younger.

• Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff hit a two-run homer in the third inning, which proved to be enough offense for San Francisco. Huff is a graduate of Brewer High School in nearby Fort Worth.

The big question in the top half of the inning was whether manager Bruce Bochy would send Madison Bumgarner out for the ninth inning. The Giants rookie was sitting by himself in the dugout -- jacket, rather than ice, on his left arm -- which suggested another appearance, but Bochy instead went to closer Brian Wilson. Probably smart: Wilson got a 1-2-3 inning and Bumgarner got to throw a dozen fewer pitches, as he looks like the frontrunner to start a possible Game 7 on short rest.

Without getting too far ahead of ourselves, Andres Torres and Edgar Renteria -- their 9th-inning outs aside -- are likely the Giants' two frontrunners for the World Series MVP trophy, especially if they should wrap it up in the next game or two. Torres is 6-for-18 (.333) with four doubles and a homer; Renteria is 6-for-14(.429) with a home run.

If Madison Bumgarner's night is done -- and having thrown 106 pitches and with closer Brian Wilson warming, it probably is -- he can rest easy knowing he was historically good. His start is only the fifth since 1995 that a starter has gone at least eight innings while allowing no more than three hits in a World Series game. The last four were the Cardinals' Chris Carpenter and the Tigers' Kenny Rogers in 2006; the Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson in 2001; and the Yankees' Roger Clemens in 2000.

So much for Darren O'Day as the Rangers' righty specialist: He's appeared in all four World Series games and allowed two home runs to righthanded batters -- Juan Uribe in Game 1 and now Buster Posey in Game 4. He was susceptible to occasional long balls from righties during the regular season, holding them to a .181 average but yielding five homers. But with Frank Francisco hurt and not on the playoff roster, Rangers manager Ron Washington has no other choice.

Home teams have a history of extending the seventh-inning stretch during the playoffs. The Yankees famously had Irish tenor Ronan Tynan's sing unknown verses of God Bless America on cold October nights in New York, and -- perhaps as a result of the pitcher getting cold during the long rendition -- the Yankees scored more often and more total runs in the seventh than any other inning of the 2003 and '04 playoffs.

Tonight, the gametime temperature was 77 degrees -- nearly twice what they averaged in New York -- but the middle of the seventh dragged on for a long ceremony. It was a very nice and very deserved tribute to the troops, but one that could have taken place before the game.

In the bottom of the inning, Giants third baseman Juan Uribe made an error, and the Rangers hit a few balls hard off Madison Bumgarner, though Nelson Cruz only hit a single and Ian Kinsler's sharp liner was caught in left.

As good as Andres Torres has been for the Giants this year -- a topic that's been well-documented here -- the vast majority of that production has come while hitting right-handed. Of his 67 regular-season extra-base hits, 55 came as a lefty with a .528 slugging percentage and only 12 as a righty with a .346 slugging; but his RBI double in the seventh was from the righthanded batter's box against lefthanded Darren Oliver.

Then again, Torres had near-opposite splits the year before: As a righthanded batter, he slugged 13 extra-bate hits and a .718 rate; as a lefty last year, he had seven extra-base hits and a .370 slugging.

It's worth giving credit to Rangers' lefthanded-hitting first baseman Mitch Moreland for another hit, this time a single, off a lefty pitcher, one night after his three-run homer off Jonathan Sanchez. But it's hard not to keep harping on Bumgarner's special night. He's gotten the last nine outs since Michael Young's fourth-inning single, on just 26 pitches. He's also kept the ball on the ground with 10 outs on grounders to just two flyballs and one line drive.

Welcome to the World Series, Clay Rapada. Or Scott Feldman ... with reliever Alexi Ogando apparently injuring his left oblique. He'll surely be replaced on the roster by another Rangers pitcher.

An already slow Game 4 just got slower as Darren Oliver entered the game and was given as many pitches as needed to warm up. This is a worst-case scenario for Major League Baseball, as viewers are likely flipping over to the NFL, which is opposing the World Series on a Sunday night for the first time since 1992. The MLB did catch one break, however, as Saints-Steelers was at halftime at the start of Oliver's extended warm-ups -- though the second-half kickoff came before the baseball resumed, ending MLB's chance to hook viewers during a break in the football.

Madison Bumgarner (21 years, 91 days) is the fifth youngest World Series starting pitcher; and, if not for a tough groundball that Freddy Sanchez almost came up with, he might have been more than halfway to the second-greatest game in Series history. He's allowed only one hit -- Sanchez dove to stop the ball, but his throw was slightly late and up the line to nab Michael Young -- and walked only two hitters. With only 61 pitches through five innings, he has a shot to go the distance, though it's unlikely manager Bruce Bochy will let Bumgarner finish the game, in order to conserve him for a possible Game 7.

Credit Rangers manager Ron Washington for the swift hook on Tommy Hunter, who didn't have his best stuff. Alexi Ogando entered and got Texas' first 1-2-3 inning of the night.

Ogando should have struck out Aubrey Huff one pitch before he did, but home-plate umpire Mike Winters called the knee-high fastball a ball. Winters has had a tough, inconsistent night behind the plate, and here's one possible reason why: He has never been the home-plate ump when Hunter, Ogando or Madison Bumgarner has pitched. Perhaps he's having trouble seeing the ball out of their hands, a similar problem that plagues hitters the first time they see a pitcher.

On the second time through the lineup, Madison Bumgarner is giving the Rangers a taste of his changeup. While facing hitters 2-4 -- Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero -- he threw just one changeup in the first lap through the lineup, a pitch which Gurrero barely foul tipped. In the fourth, however, he threw changes to each of the three hitters: a ball to Young, but then the pitch Hamilton hit into a forceout and the pitch Guerrero swung through for a strikeout.

Tommy Hunter's heightened interest in Edgar Renteria's leads off first base -- Hunter was slow to the plate and threw three pickoff attempts -- was curious, given that Renteria did not steal a base this year and has seven in the past four seasons. And the Giants wouldn't seem to want No. 9 hitter Nate Schierholtz leading off next inning should Renteria get thrown out.

But then on the pitch when Schierholtz flew out, Renteria actually did take off in an attempt to steal. Another bizarre call from the Giants' dugout, along with Freddy Sanchez's no-out bunt attempts in the first and third innings.

A study in contrasts through three innings:

The Rangers' Tommy Hunter has thrown 72 pitches, with 48 strikes. He has started only eight of 14 hitters with a first-pitch strike.

The Giants' Madison Bumgarner, after setting the Rangers down 1-2-3 in the third, has thrown 39 pitches, with 24 as strikes. He started eight of the 10 hitters he's faced with a strike.

Aubrey Huff's long, two-run blast broke open the scoring, but it seemed a matter of when, not if, the Giants would get to Rangers starter Tommy Hunter.

Hunter has thrown 72 pitches and has gotten zero swings and misses from the Giants. His stuff just isn't good enough to get the ball past the Giants, who don't look fooled at all. Even when they don't put the ball in play, the foul it off. Six of Hunter's first seven pitches to Freddy Sanchez were all foul balls and a total of 22 of his pitches have been fouls.

For a man who's 21 years and 91 days old, Madison Bumgarner continues to impress with his mental fortitude. The Giants rookie lefty pounded early-count inside fastballs to all four power hitters he faced: Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Jeff Francoeur. But he's spotting it well -- tightly on the fists -- and running it up to 93 mph. And it helps to be bailed out by great fielding, such as Freddy Sanchez's leaping catch at second base for the final out.

The Giants' game plan against Tommy Hunter is clear: Make him work. No Giant swung at the first pitch -- until No. 8 hitter Edgar Renteria. After all, it'd be nearly impossible to clear a lineup that includes Juan Uribe and Renteria without either one hacking from the get-go.

But unlike Colby Lewis Saturday night for the Rangers, who threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the final 20 hitters he faced, Hunter threw only two first-pitch strikes to the seven hitters before Renteria. That's a key reason he's up to 44 pitches through two innings -- that and umpire Jeff Kellogg's blown call at first base on an apparent inning-ending double play, which extended the inning by 11 pitches when Renteria singled.

Hunter escaped without any damage when Josh Hamilton made a spectacular diving catch in centerfield, very reminiscent of the catch former Rangers centerfielder Rusty Greer made to preserve Kenny Rogers' perfect game.

Giants rookie starter Madison Bumgarner walked Elvis Andrus on the first four pitches of the game -- all fastballs -- but showed steely resolve in his best pitch and didn't deviate from the plan. He still threw it with four of his final six pitches of the inning, getting groundballs from Michael Young and Josh Hamilton. San Francisco should have turned a double play on the first one -- if not for a pivot throw by Sanchez but Travis Ishikawa's leaping grab kept the ball in the infield. Sanchez made a nice stab to start a double play on Hamilton's grounder.

Bruce Bochy must have a lot of confidence in Madison Bumgarner, the rookie 21-year-old, or the Giants manager at least believes in the power of the first run, because he had Freddy Sanchez attempt a bunt and a hit-and-run as the second batter of the game. Sanchez failed to advance Andres Torres by either method, so Torres stole second. It was curious small-ball managing in the top of the first when there are two young pitchers on the mound.

Tommy Hunter showed great faith in his curveball, even with a runner on base. There's no exact science, of course, but the predominant school of thought for a starter is establish the fastball first and then work in offspeed pitches later, but Hunter displayed his curve with seven of his first 16 pitches in the game, then got Buster Posey to ground out with five cutters and fastballs. All three outs Hunter recorded were via groundball.

Welcome to the pivot game of the 2010 World Series. So far the home team has remained on serve, as the Giants have jumped to a 2-1 lead, but Game 4 may be the key game. Here's why:

• If Texas wins, it'll even the series and have a motivated Cliff Lee, who was beaten badly in Game 1, pitching Game 5. He'll oppose Tim Lincecum again, but he wasn't his normal self in his first start against Texas, and it's hard to imagine Lee losing twice in one postseason series.

• If it goes to a Game 7, that favors the Rangers even though the Giants will be at home in AT&T Park. Projected San Francisco starter Jonathan Sanchez hasn't been very good his last two starts and has seen his fastball dip about 3-4 miles per hour. The Giants have no other good starting options, however, except to piece the game together with a couple innings here and there from Madison Bumgarner and Lincecum, both on short rest.

The biggest news from before the game is that leftfielder Pat Burrell is not in the Giants' starting lineup, after starting the World Series 0-for-9 with two walks and eight strikeouts. Nate Schierholtz will take his spot in the lineup, starting in rightfield with Cody Ross in leftfield. Instead of Pablo Sandoval as the designated hitter, purported first baseman Aubrey Huff will fill in there, with Travis Ishikawa manning first.

The Rangers, facing a lefty for the second straight day, have the same staring lineup. Texas is 5-1 against southpaw starting pitchers in the postseason. In the one defeat it still managed 11 hits in six innings off New York's CC Sabathia.

There's a bit of unknown with today's pitching matchup. Giants rookie Madison Bumgarner has never opposed the Rangers, though he did face first baseman Jorge Cantu when he was a Marlin; Cantu went 1-for-3 with a single and strikeout. Similarly, Hunter has never pitched against the Giants but has faced Burrell and Ross when the two were with the Rays and Marlins; Burrell went 1-for-3 with a single, walk and strikeout while Ross grounded out in his only at bat against Hunter.

Across the street the Cowboys continued their disappointing season after getting blown out 35-17 by the Jaguars. One wonders whether the local fans in Cowboys Country -- and there's no doubt about which team is No. 1 -- will channel their anger and disappointment into louder support, or whether they'll instead be quiet and morose.

It is the fourth time in seven years that the same city has hosted both an NFL game and a World Series game: Eagles vs. Giants and Phillies vs. Yankees in 2009; Falcons vs. Eagles and Phillies vs. Rays in 2008; and Bears vs. Ravens and White Sox vs. Astros in 2005. Today marks the first time the home football team hasn't won; in '05 and '08 the home baseball team followed suit for double wins, but the '09 Phillies lost to the Yankees 7-4 after the Eagles had won 40-17.

Before the game, Hall of Famer Hank Aaron presented Toronto's Jose Bautista and Cincinnati's Joey Votto with the award named for him, given to the top offensive player in each league.

Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush threw the ceremonial first pitches; Lyle Lovett sang the national anthem.

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