Tom Verducci The Giants live on the edge, with a run differential of +1 after 10 postseason games and six of their seven wins by one run. That's great when they're in a close game, but the Rangers have more speed and power and can create a bigger run-scoring environment. No factor, though, is more important than Cliff Lee. Don't be surprised to see him come out of the bullpen (a la Randy Johnson in 2001) to pick up key outs in Game 7. RANGERS IN SEVEN.
Jon Heyman Texas has Cliff Lee, a nice mix of speed and power and a whole lot of confidence. I don't discount the Giants, though, as I recognize their superb pitching staff, and saw their manager and magic up close in the NLCS. RANGERS IN SEVEN.
Joe Posnanski The Giants definitely seem to have some postseason magic going, but the Rangers' lineup is better and Cliff Lee is probably the overwhelming force of the series. That said, the Giants have the home-field advantage, and Matt Cain can be a difference maker. I don't have a strong feeling but I think Rangers might be a touch better. RANGERS IN SEVEN.
Joe Lemire The Giants have made the World Series with great pitching and just enough timely hits to win seven playoff games by a total of nine runs. Their starting pitching and bullpen are good enough to keep them in every game, and at some point their offense -- subpar though it is -- ought to improve a bit. Having home-field advantage robs the Rangers of a DH in four games, helping neutralize Texas' offensive advantage somewhat. The Giants will be the underdog, but they acquitted themselves just fine in that role against the Phillies and will do it again here. GIANTS IN SEVEN.
Albert Chen A close, low-scoring series will be decided by the bullpens. The Giants have the edge here, especially with Bruce Bochy's willingness to use closer Brian Wilson before the ninth innng. Without a shut down setup man (Frank Francisco's injury is big), the Rangers' bridge to Neftali Feliz is a precarious one. GIANTS IN SEVEN.
Ben Reiter The season-long development of C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis means that the Rangers' rotation would probably have been good enough to eke past the feisty, pitching-rich Giants even if Texas GM Jon Daniels had never acquired Cliff Lee (whether the club would have gotten this far is another matter). Daniels did acquire Lee, though, and he will start Game 1 and (probably) Game 5 ?- which will represent the series-clincher for the Rangers, who have a powerful and now-healthy lineup that has produced homers in each of its 11 playoff games so far to support their terrific pitching. RANGERS IN FIVE.
Cliff Corcoran Yes, the Giants' pitchers shut down the powerful Phillies offense in the NLCS, but San Francisco was still out-scored in that series and has only won one game by more than a single run all postseason (a 3-0 win in Game 3 of the NLCS). Sure, they might be able to win four more games that way, but expecting them to do so against a team as good as the Rangers is folly. RANGERS IN SEVEN.
Joe Sheehan This matchup of teams stronger on the mound and in the field than they are at the plate will be a lot like the NLCS: taut games decided mostly by who gets the big extra-base hits and when. Giants manager Bruce Bochy won't be able to neutralize Rangers' slugger Nelson Cruz as easily as he did the Phillies' Ryan Howard, however, and the Rangers will pull out a classic seventh game on the road. RANGERS IN SEVEN.
Tim Marchman Betwen two teams with somewhat dubious lineups you have to take the one with better pitching, and the home-field advantage, while modest, is real. Note also that between his long layoff and his occasional trouble with free-swinging lineups, Cliff Lee may not be quite the factor it's assumed he'll be. GIANTS IN SIX.
Stephen Cannella The Giants will have to scramble to score, but that hasn't kept them from winning this postseason. This series comes down to run prevention, and though that's a strength for Texas, San Francisco is better. Yes, Cliff Lee will get his wins in Games 1 and 5. But the Giants -- with major help from lefty specialist Javier Lopez, who Josh Hamilton will come to dread seeing in key spots the late innings -- will figure out a way to take four of the remaining five. The victories might not be pretty, but the parade through downtown San Francisco will be. GIANTS IN SEVEN.
Ted Keith Cliff Lee has proven to be one of the best postseason pitchers in baseball history, but at least twice in this series he'll have to face the Giants' Tim Lincecum, a pretty fair pitcher in his own right. Lincecum will win one of those two games and Matt Cain, who has been exceptional at AT&T Park this season, will win two of his own, including the clincher in Game 6. GIANTS IN SIX.
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