Commentary

Finally, we have a World Series …

… or at least the makings of one after the Rangers' victory in Game 3

Originally Published: October 30, 2010
By Gene Wojciechowski | ESPN.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- What, you were expecting a whisk broom sweep?

Nuh-uh. We've got an actual World Series. Or the beginnings of one. And all it took was a starting pitcher whose 2009 baseball card is written in Japanese, a first baseman with a 94 mph heater and an outfielder nicknamed Hambone.

The World Series will live to see a Game 5 because the Texas Rangers figured out a way to win Game 3. If they hadn't, the San Francisco Giants would have been screen-printing new T-shirts: "Let Timmy Drink Champagne."

Instead, Tim Lincecum and the rest of the Giants are feeling a little discomfort after Saturday evening's 4-2 loss. Their Series lead has been cut in half. They have a rookie pitcher on the mound for Game 4. And they must play two more games in front of 52,000 singing and chanting antler heads at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"Let's be honest: You're not going to give up down 3-0, but how many times do you come back from that?" Rangers right fielder Jeff Francoeur said.

Answer: zero.

According to the latest TV ratings, only friends, family and Best Buy sales associates are watching this World Series. But that could change if the Rangers win again Sunday night. Then we might have not only a Series but also the makings of a classic.

Or not.

The Giants still have baseball history on their side (only 11 teams have blown a 2-0 Series lead) and home-field advantage. What they don't have so far is a designated hitter who can hit and a left fielder who can do something other than strike out. Pablo Sandoval took the DH collar, and Pat Burrell is 0-for-the World Series with eight strikeouts in nine at-bats.

Meanwhile, starter Jonathan Sanchez, the guy everybody says has the best stuff on the Giants' staff, registered his second consecutive postseason meltdown. He lasted two innings in Game 6 of the NLCS and just 4 2/3 innings in Game 3 here.

Barry Zito fans weep.

But as Francoeur says, let's be honest: Sanchez, Burrell and Sandoval didn't lose this game as much as the Rangers' Colby Lewis, Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton won it.

[+] EnlargeColby Lewis
Tim Heitman/US PresswireColby Lewis arguably has been the Rangers' best starter this postseason instead of Cliff Lee.

Lewis is the Matt Cain of the Rangers, hugging the terrain as he flies under the national baseball radar. He was the team's top prospect in 1999 … and then he wasn't. Torn rotator cuff.

Last season he was in Japan pitching for Hiroshima. A two-year extension was on the table. Lewis was going to sign it and start learning Japanese.

"I just thought about staying healthy and making money for my family," he said.

Then he got a call from the Rangers. Now he's the best playoff pitcher on the staff, and that includes Cliff Lee. That's not me saying it -- it's the Rangers and the stat sheet.

Lewis survived a dodgy first inning and didn't leave the game until one out was left in the eighth. He gave up two solo dingers and three other hits. That was it.

For the third time this postseason, Lewis followed a Texas loss with a Texas win. No wonder his brother Zack is buying all the Colby Lewis Japanese baseball cards he can find. It's an appreciating asset.

"I'm super happy," Lewis said.

So are Moreland and Hamilton. Moreland, possibly the only big league first baseman with a big league-quality throwing arm (he pitched in college), put together a second-inning, nine-pitch at-bat against Sanchez that belongs in Ken Burns' next baseball documentary.

Fastball for a ball. Slider for a ball. Fastball fouled off. Fastball called strike. Slider fouled off. Slider fouled off. Changeup fouled off. Changeup fouled off. Fastball into the right-field seats.

The dinger gave Texas a 3-0 lead. It was all the Rangers would need.

Hamilton aka Hambone lasered a Sanchez pitch 426 feet for a home run in the fifth inning. A rattled Sanchez then walked Vladimir Guerrero, which is hard to do even if you're trying. Giants manager Bruce Bochy pulled him out of the game.

We kind of … maybe … have a real World Series now. And here's why:

• The Rangers made Bochy reach into his bullpen Saturday night for three different relievers. That will matter if he has to do it again Sunday night.

• The record crowd of 52,419 Texas crazies sort of got to the Giants. I think it was everybody waving white towels and singing "Deep in the Heart of Texas" that did it.

Tommy Hunter hasn't pitched well this postseason for the Rangers, but in Game 4 he'll face a predominantly right-handed Giants lineup. That's different from when he struggled against a left-handed-laden New York Yankees lineup.

• Giants rookie starter Madison Bumgarner, like Hunter, will make his World Series debut. Rookies sometimes pitch like rookies.

• The Rangers don't sound like a team trailing in the Series.

"It's a must-win if their team has three wins," Rangers third baseman Michael Young said. "Then it's a must-win."

Exactly. Now it's a must-see Series if the Rangers win Game 4.

Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at gene.wojciechowski@espn.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.

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Gene Wojciechowski | email

Columnist / College Football reporter