Pre-World Series thoughts

ROTATION IS SET: Manager Bruce Bochy changed things up a bit for the
World Series, bring Matt Cain back to pitch Game 2. Bochy said it has
more to do with rest than Sanchez’s outing Saturday in Game 6 of the
NLCS. Cain hasn’t pitched since Game 3 of the NLCS last Tuesday.

So it
will be Tim Lincecum in Game 1, Cain in Game 2, Sanchez in Game 3 and
presumably Madison Bumgarner in Game 4. That would bring Lincecum back
in Game 5, Cain in Game 6 and Sanchez in Game 7.

After Sanchez’s poor
outing Saturday, that could make some Giants faithful uneasy in a Game
7. But, as he’s shown already, Bochy would not hestitate in bring
Lincecum out of the pen in Game 7 should Sanchez get shaky again. And in
this scenario, he’d be coming back with 2 days of rest.

MEANINGLESS STAT: The Rangers are 0-9 in AT&T Park. The Giants swept
the Rangers at home in 2009, 2006 and 2000. The only series worth
noting would be last year’s, so here it is:

Giants win 6-4 on June 19

Johnson got the start, but Sergio Romo got the win. Scott Feldman
started and lost for Texas. Fred Lewis had a two-run homer in the sixth
to give the Giants a 5-4 lead.

Giants win 2-1 (11) on June 20

Derek Holland got the start for Texas,
giving up 1 run in 7 IP; Matt Cain pitched for the Giants, giving up 1
run and 3 H in 8 IP. Jason Jennings threw a wild pitch with Bengie
Molina at the plate, allowing Nate Schierholtz to score the winning run
in the 11th. Romo got the win again.

Giants win 3-2 on June 21

Barry Zito outpitched Kevin Millwood.
Andruw Jones hit a two-run homer to tie the game in the top of the
seventh. Consecutive singles by Rowand, Renteria and Winn produced the
go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh. Brian Wilson got the save.

THE VLAD FACTOR: Rangers DH Vladimir Guerrero will start in RF for the
Rangers in Game 1 in San Francisco. After that Rangers manager Ron
Washington will take a wait-and-see approach.

Guerrero has played only
20 games in the outfield the past two seasons. Harold Reynolds on MLB
Network says right-field at AT&T Park is shallow, so there won’t be
much room for Vlad to cover. We say “What!?” Right field at AT&T
Park is one of the most difficult right fields in baseball. Playing the
ball off the brick wall and arch ways can be a nightmare for many
outfielders. Plus, right fielders must help cover triples alley in right

With Vlad in right, the Rangers will have decide if he covers
the line or the alley. Either way, there will be opportunities for
extra-base hits for the Giants. Also the move caused Nelson Cruz to move from right, where he is most comfortable, to left.

DH DECISION: Bruce Bochy has not decided, or at least announced, which
player he will use as the DH when the series swings to Texas this

The first thought is that Pat Burrell would be the DH. He’s been in the Giants lineup this postseason for his bat. When the Giants get a lead late, Burrell comes out for Nate Schierholtz for defensive purposes. So it makes sense to put Burrell at DH.

But Burrell has said he doesn’t like to DH, and his struggles in Tampa Bay as a DH seem to support that. That other side of this equation is what do you gain in the lineup with Burrell not in left field — Aaron Rowand? Nate Schierholtz?

The other thought is to make Pablo Sandoval the DH. But Sandoval has not started a lot in the postseason, and it’s not his glove specifically that has kept him on the bench. It’s the fact his bat has not produced enough to offset what you lose defensively.

Another thought is Travis Ishikawa. But not as the DH. You start Ishikawa at first base, and let Aubrey Huff play DH. Ishikawa often comes in late as a defensive replacement for Huff at first. If you start Ishikawa at first base, you improve your entire infield defense. And Huff has experience in the DH spot.

Plus, in Games 3 and 4 in Texas, the Rangers are set to start right-handers. So it figures the Giants will want to get an extra left-handed bat. So the choice comes down to Schierholtz (with Burrell at DH), Sandoval or Ishikawa.

In Game 5 against the lefty Lee, the choice boils down to Sandoval or Rowand.

BOTTOM LINE: Most of the prognosticators will take about the Rangers, Cliff Lee and their lineup. So the Giants are underdogs … again.

They were underdogs to win the NL West, underdogs to catch the Padres, underdogs against the Phillies. But here they are in the World Series.

The Rangers are a good team, no doubt. But remember, Texas finished the season 90-72 in a weak AL West. The Giants finished 92-70.

Cliff Lee has been lights out in the postseason. Getting a win in one of the games Lee starts may be the key for the Giants. But then again, the Yankees beat the Phillies last year while losing twice to Lee. And the Giants have beaten a ton of good pitchers this season. If you look at pitchers who might get Cy Young votes — like Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Ubaldo Jimenez, Mat Latos, Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright — the Giants have beaten each those pitchers this season. They didn’t light up those pitchers, but they did enough to win.

To beat Lee, the Giants must focus on contact. If Lee piles up 10 or 12 strikeouts against them, that’s bad news for the Giants.

Josh Hamilton is a huge weapon for the Rangers. But AT&T Park is known for frustrating left-handed power hitters not named Barry Bonds.


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