The San Francisco Giants took a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven World Series Thursday night with a 9-0 victory over the Texas Rangers.
The star of Game 2 was Giants’ starter Matt Cain, who tossed 7.2 shutout innings on a windy night at AT&T Park. He was supported by 1997 World Series hero Edgar Renteria, who had a home run and three RBIs, as well as third baseman Juan Uribe’s two RBIs.
In his first postseason, Cain has pitched 21.1 innings without allowing an earned run. The big righty joined five others (Kenny Rogers, 2006 Tigers; Burt Hooten, 1981 Dodgers; Jon Matlack, 1973 Mets; Waite Hoyt, 1921 Yankees; Christy Mathewson, 1905 Giants) to have three starts in a single postseason without allowing an earned run.
Game 2 was closer than the final score would indicate. It looked like the Rangers would score first in the top of the fifth inning when Ian Kinsler hit a monstrous drive off the top of the wall in dead center. He would settle for a leadoff double, but then Cain stranded the Texas second baseman by getting three outs on balls that did not leave the infield.
Renteria did score the game’s first run in the bottom of the fifth with a solo homer to left field. In the top of the sixth, Cain once again showed the mettle that has made him such an effective hurler this postseason. After giving up singles to Michael Young and Josh Hamilton, as well as a wild pitch, the Giants’ starter escaped the one-out jam by getting Nelson Cruz and Kinsler out on short popouts.
"I tried to get ahead of those guys," Cain said. "My biggest goal was to get them in my situation, but working the counts in my favor."
The Giants chased Rangers’ starter C.J. Wilson one batter into the bottom of the seventh, and postseason veteran Uribe added an RBI in that frame to give San Francisco a 2-0 lead. Cain was pulled after 7.2 innings, as lefty specialist Javier Lopez got AL batting champion Josh Hamilton to fly out to end the top of the eighth.
Instead of an exciting finish, the Rangers bullpen (lack of facial hair?) could not find the strike zone in bottom of that frame. They walked four and gave up four hits as the Giants scored seven runs to put the game out of reach.
"You know, those guys were good, especially Cain tonight," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We had some opportunities early in the ballgame to put some runs on the board, and we had the right people up there, and he made his pitches. That's what he does well. We just couldn't get it done. I think you have to tip your hat to the pitching over there right now.”
Washington’s team will be glad to get back home to Arlington, where they’ll enjoy a hitter’s park, the ability to play designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, and the home crowd. The Rangers led Major League Baseball in batting average this season, but they have only hit 4-for-21 with runners in scoring position in two World Series games. Conversely, the red-hot Giants have batted an amazing .500 (13-26) with runners in scoring position. Texas must reverse that fact to get back into this series.
Thirteen of the last 14 teams to go up 2-0 in the World Series have gone on to win the title, with the 1996 New York Yankees being the lone exception. The Rangers will try to change that trend Saturday night, when they send Colby Lewis to the mound to face Giants’ lefty Jonathan Sanchez in Game 3.