Game 1 is in the books, and Giants have tackled their first big hurdle of the series, beating Cliff Lee.
We said one of the keys for the Giants would be getting a win in a game started by Lee, and they did even better, spanking the left-hander for seven runs — six earned — on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.
It was a completely unexpected result.
If you said the Giants would win with Tim Lincecum giving up four runs in less than six innings, we’d take that.
If you said the Rangers would score seven runs, and the Giants would still win, we’d take that too.
Before that huge fifth inning, it looked as if the Giants were letting opportunities slip away.
* First inning: Freddy Sanchez gets the first hit, a double on the right-field line. With one out, Buster Posey hit a flare to right. Sanchez must have been watching Vladimir Guerrero, who had not chance to get the ball, because Sanchez wandered about two-third to third base. But he wasn’t watching 2B Ian Kinsler, who ran the ball down and then doubled Sanchez up.
* Second inning: The Rangers had runners on second and third with one out. The runner on third was Bengie Molina, who we all know is the slowest human on earth. Lincecum got Elvis Andrus to fly out to medium center field. The Rangers sent Molina. CF Andres Torres should have set himself and made a solid throw home. But he didn’t. The throw was way off line and Molina scored easily. Torres has to throw Molina out on that fly ball.
*Third inning: Edgar Renteria reached on an error to open the inning. Tim Lincecum fails to get down a bunt. But then Andres Torres is hit by a pitch, and Sanchez gets double No. 2 to score Renteria. Posey singles to center to score Torres, but Sanchez got a poor read on the ball and is held up at third. Had Sanchez come home, he would have scored as the throw home was off line. Then Pat Burrell and Cody Ross both struck out — looking.
File this away for future reference, Giants. If Cliff Lee has two strikes on you, you’ve got to look to be swinging on anything close. If it’s close, it’s a strike with Cliff Lee.
Bottom line, and we’ve said it before, the Giants need to do the little things to win, and they can’t let so many opportunities get by when facing someone like Cliff.
TAKING THE FIFTH
The reason why those missed opportunities didn’t hurt the Giants is that they made Lee pay for mistakes in the fifth inning.
Texas manager Ron Washington said he wasn’t going to worry about a pitch count with Cliff Lee. He was going go with Lee deep into the game. That mindset bit Washington in the fifth.
In the fifth, Torres got a one-out double, and Sanchez followed with double No. 3 to score Torres, and the Giants are up 3-2.
Posey struck out (looking again!). But it was an important out, because it put the idea in Washington’s head that Lee was about to get out of the inning. So he didn’t get the bullpen going.
It wasn’t until Lee walked Pat Burrell that reliever Darren O’Day headed to the bullpen.
Then Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff singled to score two more runs and Lee’s night was done.
O’Day, hardly having time to warm up, came in and Uribe sent the side-armer’s third pitch into the left-field bleachers for an 8-2 lead.
That’s five runs scored with two outs. Huge!
VLAD AS IN BAD
Vladimir Guerrero playing right field didn’t hurt the Rangers until the Giants already had eight runs on the board. But it may cause the Rangers to rethink their lineup in Game 2.
In the ninth, with the Giants up 8-4, Renteria opened the inning with a single to right. But Vlad played a little matador defense on the ball and whiffed, allowing Renteria to take third.
Renteria scored on Travis Ishikawa’s double. Renteria’s run ended up being earned when Freddy Sanchez singled down the right field line, scoring Ishikawa.
But then Vlad tried to pick up the ball as if the ball had a mind of its own, allowing Sanchez to take second. Sanchez then scored on Nate Schierholtz’s single to center.
The plays ended having little impact on the game. But if Vlad is back out in right in Game 2, we would not be surprised to see the Giants take advantage of Vlad’s lack of range or dependability with the glove.
THIS AND THAT
* Wednesday’s victory was the eighth consecutive Game 1 victory in a postseason series for the Giants.
* The Giants scored 19 total runs in six games in the NLCS. They had 11 on Wednesday.
* Freddy Sanchez is red-hot. After opening the postseason 2 for 21, Sanchez 13 for 25 in his last six postseason games.
* Timmy take some Tums! Tim Lincecum’s head was somewhere else when Nelson Cruz hit a chopper in front of the mound with Michael Young at third and Vlad Guerrero at first. Lincecum had Young hung out to dry, but just walked Young back to third, loading the bases. Lincecum looked like the thought the Rangers would have two runners at third. But they only had one. There were two Giants — Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria — at third. “A little bit of a brain fart there, not really knowing the situation,” Lincecum said. Lincecum got Ian Kinsler to ground into an inning-ending double play, so the play ended up not hurting.