This is a viewing guide to help prepare you for Game 5 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers. Click here for the complete 2010 World Series schedule.
Time: 7:57pm ET
The funny thing about the World Series - or any playoff series, for that matter - is that every game is important. Every game is huge. The Giants were up 2-0 in the series going into Game 3. Game 3 was huge. The Rangers then won to narrow the series to 2-1 going into Game 4. And Game 4 was huge. A Giants win would push the Rangers to the brink. A Rangers win would even things up with Cliff Lee due to start.
And Game 4 went to the Giants, pushing the Rangers to the brink. So now we head into Game 5 with the series 3-1 and the Rangers facing their second must-win game of the playoffs. They answered the bell in the ALDS against the Rays, but this time, they don't just have to win one game. They have to win three, and they have to win them all in a row.
Of course, they can't win all three at once, so the mission now is to take it one game at a time. Before they think about what lies ahead, they need to think about Game 5, and forcing a trip back to San Francisco. They'll be sending the right man to the mound in Cliff Lee.
But then, so will the Giants, who turn back to Tim Lincecum as they look to win their first world championship since 1954, and first since moving to California. There is, of course, a certain thrill to winning at home, and all things being equal I'm sure the Giants would prefer to win in AT&T Park. But this is no time to be greedy, and there's nothing the Giants would love more than winning in five with as little suspense as possible.
This pitching matchup didn't work out as people thought it would back in Game 1. The Rangers are going to need a far better effort from Lee if they want to stay alive. The Giants are also going to seek a better effort from Lincecum. And if they get it - if they get it, there may not be any baseball on Wednesday. Lincecum has it within himself to make sure Monday night features the final pitches of the year.
(1) This is going to sound really simplistic, but if Cliff Lee wants to have a better game than he did in the series opener, he needs to do a better job of avoiding the middle of the zone. The Giants ripped off eight hits against Lee in Game 1. They picked up four doubles and a single on pitches right in the middle, which is an area that Lee typically does a great job of missing. They did also pick up three hits on balls on the edge, but those weren't as solidly hit. The Giants have proven they can hit strikes. They haven't proven that they can hit balls, or borderline pitches. Lee's usually good about forcing that last one, and he needs to force it on Monday. He should be able to, but Game 1 raised a few questions.
(2) Tim Lincecum threw 30 fastballs to right-handed hitters in his Game 1 outing. 27 of them - 90% - were at the middle of the strike zone or above. All of his fastballs were up up up, nearly half of them missing the zone entirely. Now, this isn't new to him. While he generally spreads his fastball around, he had a similar approach in his playoff debut, that being his brilliant effort against the Braves. But the difference between Lincecum against the Braves and Lincecum against the Rangers is that, against the Braves, he did a better job of burying his slider, whereas against the Rangers they were a bit too elevated. Lincecum can do one of two things if he wants to be better in Game 5 - he can drop his slider more, or he can bring his fastball down on occasion and prove that he can throw it to the knees. Doing either one of those should keep the Rangers more off-balance.
(3) Alexi Ogando leads all right-handed Ranger relievers with 5.2 playoff innings pitched. And now, after injuring himself in Game 4, he's going to be lost to the team with a strained left oblique. His replacement will be one of Dustin Nippert, Scott Feldman, Clay Rapada, and Matt Harrison. It doesn't seem like a huge deal, especially with Cliff Lee set to take the mound, but Ogando was an important bridge to Neftali Feliz, and losing his strikeout stuff only makes the Ranger bullpen more vulnerable. If Lee isn't able to last as long as he's been known to last, there'll be a better opportunity for the Giants to strike, and we could see if Ron Washington is willing to counter by leaning on Feliz a little harder than he has.
TV Announcers: Joe Buck and Tim McCarver
Radio: ESPN Radio
Radio Announcers: Jon Miller and Joe Morgan
Umpires: Sam Holbrook, Bill Miller, John Hirschbeck, Gary Darling, Mike Winters, Jeff Kellogg
MLB.com Gameday: Link