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October 27, 2010 at 12:37 PM

Seven-game World Series? Not this time

Can’t believe it’s been eight years since the last seven-game World Series. My biggest memories from covering that one, between the Giants and Angels, were of the Rally Monkey — still kind of cute back then, not to mention very visible in Game 6 — and how cold it was at the games in San Francisco.
We were in the auxilliary press box, in the left field bleacher seats, at Pac Bell (now AT&T) Park. Barry Bonds and company would take BP and it would be like we were under attack by missiles, with balls hurling at our computers at top speed. Once the sun went down, the winds blasting off McCovey Cove made your hands go numb as you tried to type. Good times.
We’d just covered the 2001 classic between the Yankees and D-Backs a year earlier, so this seven-game stuff was becoming quite routine. And then it stopped.
Some folks think we’re in for a seven-gamer this time around between two fairly evenly-matched teams in the Giants and Rangers, at least on the mound.
Well, I’d love to see it. But I disagree. I think the Rangers will win the opener today and take the series in five.
I can already hear the howls of outrage. And yes, it’s pretty popular to pick a six or seven-game series these days. But very few of them go that long anymore. Since the 2003 World Series between the Marlins and Yankees, only one — last year’s — has gone more than five games.
In this case, I simply think a rested Cliff Lee will overpower the National League lineup he will face in Games 1 and 4 (or 5). Lee will likely wind up doing that both times Tim Lincecum is slotted to take the mound for the Giants.
The way Lee is pitching this post-season, it would be shocking to see the Giants score a run off him today. Can we say the same for Lincecum? Not quite. Since his two-hitter against Atlanta, he has looked more and more “human” each time out. He gave up quite a few early baserunners to the Phillies in Game 1 of the NLCS, but Philadelphia’s hitters were slumping so badly at the time that they could not capitalize. Lincecum is still throwing great, just not as well as Lee. He can be beat and likely will be when Lee is putting up zeros for the other team.
At the top of their game, the Phillies have an AL lineup. But their bats went into a deep freeze in the post-season, starting with their sweep of the Reds. They never thawed as uptight hitters began gripping their bats tighter and tighter with each loss. You could see it in the faces of guys like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jayson Werth and all through the lineup.
The Rangers don’t have that problem.
Photo Credit: AP

Texas has plenty of good hitters and they have kept up their good hitting throughout the post-season.
Confidence is a key factor in any short series — even a seven-game series. Compared to a 162-game season, this series is a very small sample. So, if you come in lacking confidence, like the Phillies did on offense, then each bad day only magnifies your offensive woes.
Not so with the Rangers, who laid a whupping on the Yankees with their bats. Confidence spreads throughout the lineup and they are as confident as it gets. Over a full season, that would even out with natural slumps and cold streaks. But right now, you want to be hot going into a series because the confidence that brings can be the difference maker when you could only need it for four or five more days.
The Rangers will not be the offensive pushovers the Phillies were. San Francisco needed every one of those Phillies strikeouts with RISP and every single Philadelphia error to squeak out a bunch of one-run victories and prevail.
That won’t be enough here.
You aren’t going to hold these Rangers to three runs or fewer every night. Even with Lincecum and Matt Cain out there.
Texas is too good at hitting the ball and is a far more confident offense than those Phillies were when the NLCS began.
And San Francisco is going to have to figure out how to score off Lee and C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis. You can’t sit and wait for the other team to make an error or give up a fluke solo homer every night. Not when the Rangers can pile up three runs with one swing.
I just don’t think this Giants team is capable. And really, that’s what does it for me. We won’t even get into how well the Rangers play on the road and the caliber of teams they’ve already taken down.
Looking foward to a great pitching matchup today between Lee and Lincecum. But I do think the Rangers will win and achieve at least the split they need in San Francisco. After that, with three games in Arlington — and Lee working one of them — I think the series can be wrapped up before a return to the Bay Area.
Hey, I’m not always right. But you can still have fun rooting against this pick.
And I’m told that Edgar Martinez will be at Elysian Fields Stadium District Brewpub this afternoon and throughout the game. No tickets are required, so you and the rest of the mob can just show up and fight your way in to watch the game with him.
A portion of proceeds from food and spirits sales will be donated by Elysian to The Martinez Foundation.
From 6-7pm, Martinez will sign autographs at $25 each with 100% of fees also donated to The Martinez Foundation. MLB baseballs and photos of Martinez at his last Mariners game are available for an additional purchase.



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