Rangers look like strangers in Series

BY foxsports • October 31, 2010

You know what they say. Mitch Moreland can’t do it every night.

There were no heroics from the No. 9 spot on Sunday. In fact, there were no heroics from anyone in a Texas uniform.

Yes, the San Francisco Giants caught breaks on two missed calls by first base umpire Jeff Kellogg. But sources tell FOXSports.com that it’s really hard to win in the World Series without advancing a runner past second base.

The Rangers tried to do it in Game 4. Three hits later, they were stuck with a 4-0 loss. Suddenly, the American League champs are one defeat away from the golf course.

“Pffffft,” sighed Josh Hamilton, as his postgame interview began.

Pretty much sums it up.

Before the first pitch, I believed very strongly that the winner of Game 4 would take the Series. I still do. So, my advice to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom: Prepare the parade route.

Texas, in particular, needed this game. Sure, the Rangers have Cliff Lee ready to pitch Game 5. But the idea was for Lee to give Texas a lead heading back to the Bay Area, not a longshot chance at winning two games at AT&T Park.

This is the Rangers’ current predicament: They have no margin for error. They are trying to recover from a collective faceplant against a rookie starter. They have been shut out twice in the last three games. And they are due to face right-handed studs (Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain).

For all their talent and professionalism, the Rangers are about to pull off the freeway at Elimination, Texas.

“Frustrated, a little bit,” Hamilton acknowledged, when asked about the disappearing offense. “We’re not playing to our capability. In the postseason, the team that stays the hottest is going to win.”

Right now, that team is not the Texas Rangers.

Just check the World Series batting averages for the iron of their lineup:

Hamilton: .125.

Vladimir Guerrero: .100.

Nelson Cruz: .188.

Ian Kinsler: .214.

During the Rangers’ triumph over the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series, the foursome combined to drive in 18 runs.

In the World Series: five.

Hamilton took an odd 0 for 4 in Game 4. His night began with a double play and ended with a checked swing for the 27th out.

Madison Bumgarner, the 21-year-old left-hander, challenged Hamilton with fastballs all night. He wasn’t able to drive them. That’s odd, considering the Rays and Yankees did all they could to avoid throwing him fastballs in earlier rounds.

“I feel good,” Hamilton insisted. “I’m not getting hits. It sucks to not get hits in the World Series.”

Guerrero has been an even greater enigma. He looked lost against Bumgarner, going 0 for 3 with three strikeouts — on three different pitches.

He watched a fastball. He half-swung at a changeup. He flailed at a slider. He looked old.

“Very surprised, to be honest with you,” Hamilton said, when asked about Guerrero’s struggles. “Vladi’s a competitor. Like me, he’s looking for a different pitch than he got. We’re all guilty of that at times.”

Sure. But this is what it looks like when hitters go bad at the same time.

The Rangers haven’t had a true rally since Game 1, and that came when the Giants were comfortably ahead. Matt Cain, Javier Lopez and Guillermo Mota shut them out in Game 2. And Texas did all its Game 3 on home runs by Moreland and Hamilton.

Sure, the long ball is great. But good postseason lineups put pitchers in a vise by going walk-single-gapper a couple times each night. In the World Series, the Giants have been that type of team. The Rangers have not.

“We’re a very proud offense,” Texas outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. “We like to score runs. At the same time, coming in, I said this pitching staff was very capable of (shutting a team down). They’ve done a great job.

“You never want to say he (Bumgarner) pitched the greatest game you saw, but he did pitch well. And we never put pressure on him to throw a pitch in a big situation. I don’t think we got a runner to third base tonight, did we?”

Nope.

So what should a team do when it’s batting .211 in the World Series and (maybe) nine innings away from the end?

Will there be a frantic scene at the batting cages today, hitters trying desperately to hack their way out of ill-timed slumps?

“At this point, if you don’t have it figured out … ” Francoeur started to say. “Guys will probably soft-toss. We’ll hit BP. But I don’t think it does any good to hit for an hour off the curveball machine and wear yourself out. We know what we have to do. We know the objective.

“It’s Nov. 1. We’ve been playing for eight months.”

They have. And they have played very well. But they won’t be at it much longer.



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