One-dimensional Rangers start out flat
World Series newbies get bats going but falter with pitching, defense in loss to Giants
"You have to do three things to win games: hit, play defense and pitch," Hamilton said. "We got some hits, but we didn't play defense that great or pitch that well."
In other words, the Rangers were 1-for-3. And that's not good enough to win postseason games, especially in the World Series against a San Francisco Giants team that has made its playoff living on taking advantage of any opening the opposition provides.
Wednesday's game started like so many in this memorable postseason for the Rangers. They scored the first run of the game -- in the first, no less -- and took a 2-0 lead into the third.
But things fell apart from there. The rest of the winning blueprint -- especially that defensive part -- was not executed.
The young Rangers, who looked so much like playoff veterans in the first two series as they clawed and antlered their way to the World Series, reverted to the appearance of postseason rookies at AT&T Park. Many players said it wasn't nerves.
"You don't like to make excuses, but I think the longer layoff hurt us," Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz said. "We had some rust."
Maybe. If there were a few more butterflies, that would be understandable. This is the franchise's first foray into the Fall Classic.
Even the king of playoff cool, Cliff Lee, didn't seem comfortable on his throne, despite a 2-0 lead heading into the third inning. He lasted just 4 2/3 innings and got too many pitches up in the zone.
The Giants, not exactly prolific at the plate this season, scored seven runs off him. They tagged the Rangers starter for five doubles and batted around in a six-run fifth inning. It's the biggest inning by an opponent off Texas in this postseason.
But Lee wasn't the only Ranger who was off-kilter. The defense, a point of pride for the Rangers and the subject of many Ron Washington sermons, was not up to the team's 2010 standards. Not by a long shot.
"It was not a clean game," third baseman Michael Young said.
The Rangers had four errors, the most in one World Series game since the Red Sox did it in 2004.The most visible defensive issue was Vladimir Guerrero at right field. The experiment of putting the full-time DH in the expansive AT&T Park right field was a failure.
You don't like to make excuses, but I think the longer layoff hurt us. We had some rust.” -- Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz
Guerrero had trouble covering ground out there and committed two errors in the same inning. He couldn't get to a hopping ball as he charged it and then bobbled a ball as he jumped over the bullpen mound down the right-field line.
Expect manager Ron Washington to get David Murphy in the field in Game 2 to allow Cruz to shift back over to right field.
"Nobody's perfect," Guerrero said through a translator. "I made two mistakes, especially the eighth inning, but I think I could have a better handle of the ball. I'm not perfect. As I told you, I cannot put my head down for the next game."
The early innings helped dictate the momentum of the game. The Rangers loaded the bases in the first inning with one out but managed only one run. They had runners at second and third with one out in the second and still got only one run. Texas had starter Tim Lincecum worried but couldn't land the knockout punch.
"It would have been nice to score more, especially in the first, but he made the pitches he had to," Young said. "He's a good pitcher and he did what he needed to do."
A couple of mistakes in the third inning helped the Giants generate momentum. Michael Young went to his left to snag a grounder hit by Edgar Renteria but felt the ball kick off his glove. That put a runner on with no outs in the third in a 2-0 game.
Two batters later, Cliff Lee hit Andres Torres on an 0-2 count. It was the first time since Aug. 19, 2009, that Lee hit a batter on an 0-2 count. After a double and a single, the Giants had tied the score as both of those runners touched home plate.
A few innings later, the normally sure-handed Elvis Andrus couldn't get to a ball and was charged with an error.
"Four errors, that's definitely not like us," outfielder Jeff Francoeur said. "That's not how we play. That's the frustrating part. But we'll come out and put that behind us and bounce back."
The Rangers' baserunning wasn't quite as crisp, either. With the score 8-4 in the eighth, Ian Kinsler led off with an infield single. The throw was off line, and Kinsler thought it went into the dugout so he turned toward second. But first baseman Aubrey Huff had the ball and easily tagged Kinsler, snuffing out any hopes the Rangers had for a rally that inning.
The bats were swinging in a three-run ninth, but by then the game was effectively over.
"We understand this is a long series," Andrus said. "We don't want to lose, but we have to come to the field every day and play 100 percent and see what happens. We know we can do that."
They did it after blowing a 5-1 lead in the eighth inning in Game 1 of the ALCS to the Yankees. And they bounced back to win Game 5 in Tampa after losing two straight at home to blow a 2-0 lead.
"We didn't give up, we kept playing," Hamilton said, noting the team scored five runs in the final four innings despite the big deficit. "That's our nature. We'll play until the last out is made because it's not over. We know we have to play better and we will."
WORLD SERIES GAME 1
GIANTS 11, RANGERS 7
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