Updated: November 28, 2010 4:52PM
The Giants got here based on strong pitching, especially from Tim Lincecum (16-10, 3.43 ERA), Matt Cain (13-11, 3.14), Jonathan Sanchez (13-9, 3.07) and Madison Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00). The Rangers' top four of Cliff Lee (12-9, 3.18), C.J. Wilson (15-8, 3.35), Colby Lewis (12-13, 3.72) and Tommy Hunter (13-4, 3.73) have respectable numbers, too. Sanchez can be erratic. Lee, who's 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight postseason outings, could start Games 1, 4 and 7. The Rangers have the more reliable group.
Both teams have talented middle relievers, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy has shown he's not afraid to get creative with all of his arms to pull out a victory. The X-factor is the closers. Rangers rookie Neftali Feliz has been impressive, going 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA and 40 saves during the regular season. But Giants closer Brian Wilson (3-3, 1.81 ERA, 48 saves), with his dyed-black beard, is an intimidating presence. He got the last five outs of the NLCS and has shown he belongs in October.
Out of the final four teams in the postseason, the Giants scored the fewest runs in the playoffs with 30 while hitting only .231. The Rangers, playing in one more game, easily outdistanced the field with 59 runs and a .281 batting average. No team in baseball wants to face this offense. The wild card here is the Giants -- whether it's October sensation Cody Ross, former White Sox infielder Juan Uribe or rookie catcher Buster Posey -- have been able to consistently get that clutch hit.
Relying on pitching to carry them this season, the Giants know a tight defense is a big part of that formula. They completely outplayed the sloppy Philadelphia Phillies in this category during the NLCS. Uribe can play short or third base. It looks like he will be starting at third base tonight, with veteran Edgar Renteria getting the call at short. Uribe has long been underrated defensively. Sox fans can testify: You definitely want him on the field in October.
Rangers manager Ron Washington kept his team composed after what could have been a disastrous Game 1 loss to the New York Yankees in the ALCS. Washington keeps his cool and seems to push all the right buttons, but Bochy has been on a roll, making all the right pinch-hitting moves and showing plenty of guts with his use of the bullpen during the NLCS. Bochy has been here before, taking the San Diego Padres to the 1998 World Series against the Yankees.
Giants pinch hitters have gone 4-for-12 this postseason, while the Rangers have gone 1-for-5. Ex-White Sox center fielder Aaron Rowand could just as easily start or come off the bench for the Giants. He's a gritty player who has more to offer than what his disappointing 2010 numbers show. Look for ex-Cub Mike Fontenot -- the lefty-swinging Giants infielder -- to factor into play late in games.
DE LUCA'S PICK: Rangers in six