You just never know in baseball. Leading up to Game 1, with a Tim Lincecum vs Cliff Lee pitching matchup, the smart bet would have been on a 1-0 win for one of the teams.
But the Giants hitters seemed bent on trying to force deep counts on Lee to wear him out and the game results show that they were successful. Not only did a lighter hitting Giants line up (compared to the Yankees or Phillies at the very least) explode for 11 runs, they tagged 6 runs on Lee who had been lights out in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but they got him to toss 104 pitches in just 4 2/3 innings.
The importance of winning Game 1 for the Rangers was more than just the statistics favoring the World Series title chances for the winner of Game 1. The rest of the Rangers’ starting rotation stomped their way through the playoffs riding the confidence set by Lee with his previous dominating performances. Taking the loss is one thing, but having witnessed the extent to which the Giants were able to punish Lee, it will be interesting to see Game 2 starter C.J. Wilson and the rest of the Rangers pitchers respond the rest of the series.
The highlight reel of the offensive onslaught was ex-White Sox Juan Uribe’s home run, which came after Lee was pulled. Combined with 4 errors by the Rangers in the field, it was a forgettable performance that they will hope to put behind them right away, despite the valient comeback attempt late in the game.
Going back to Lee, it will be interesting if this performance and his possible next start in this World Series will make any dent into the rumored 8 year, $160 million contract his agent is seeking on his behalf. The main suitors named so far are the Yankees and Rangers, but as Jordan reported a few days ago, the Cubs may at least keep an eye on exactly where Lee’s market value may end up at. As a believer in needing a true ace if the Cubs wish to be true contenders, I would love to see the Cubs focus just on trying to afford Lee this offseason and rebuilding the rest of the roster from within or with spare parts. But with Hendry being burned of late on long term deals (see Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano), any deal longer than 4 years may be tough for Hendry to sell to the Ricketts, the tight budget aside.