Rangers take a Giant step
BY CHRIS DE LUCA Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
Mitch Moreland (right) is congratulated after belting a three-run homer in the second inning.
Updated: November 28, 2010 4:54PM
ARLINGTON, Texas -- There's the offensive imbalance we've been expecting for the 106th World Series.
The Texas Rangers flexed their famous muscles, and the San Francisco Giants seemed to be on a mission to strand runners in key situations just like they did throughout the regular season.
Order was restored, at least for a day, in Game 3 of the World Series as the Rangers belted two home runs -- including a three-run blast from rookie Mitch Moreland and a 426-foot bomb from Josh Hamilton -- to beat the Giants 4-2 Saturday night in front of a record crowd of 52,419 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
The Rangers became the first team from Texas to win a World Series game after the White Sox swept the Houston Astros -- the Lone Star State's previous representative -- during the 2005 Series. The Giants hold a 2-1 edge entering Game 4 tonight.
''Momentum has shifted,'' Hamilton said. ''We are right where we want to be.''
Keep in mind, the Giants scored 20 runs in the first two games and were coming off a 9-0 thumping of the Rangers in Game 2. Their frail offense had to be worn out after that effort.
Even the Giants were bracing for this breakout by the Rangers and a dud from their own offense.
''Our whole season, we would throw up 10 runs in a game, then we don't score the next day,'' Giants outfielder -- and former White Sox star -- Aaron Rowand said. ''Most of the time, it seems like when we've had an outbreak of runs, the next day, we didn't hit all that well.''
That was certainly the case in Game 3.
Trailing 4-0 by the fifth, the Giants seemed to have little shot rallying against Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis, whose nasty slider was tying hitters in knots. Lewis struck out six and held the Giants to solo home runs by October star Cody Ross in the seventh and Andres Torres in the eighth.
Veteran outfielder Pat Burrell was a symbol of the Giants' offensive woes, striking out four times -- twice with runners on base. Burrell is 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts in the World Series -- giving him 13 in 23 career Series at-bats -- putting his status in the starting lineup in jeopardy.
''His timing is off probably a little bit,'' Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. ''He's a big reason why we're here, with the huge hits he's gotten. Sure, you hope he comes out of it, and it was a tough night for him. But he can handle it.''
The Rangers gained their first momentum of the Series during a two-out rally in the second. With runners on the corners, Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez worked the count against Moreland to 2-2 and appeared to have the upper hand. But Moreland fouled off four consecutive pitches before launching his three-run shot into the right-field seats.
''Mitch is stubborn,'' Hamilton said. ''He's not going to let anybody beat him.''
It was a tough blow for a Giants pitching staff that had been shutting down the Rangers' scary offense.
''Sanchez was a pitch away,'' Bochy said, ''from having a pretty good outing.''
Then Moreland, the No. 9 hitter, delivered the key two-out hit.
The Rangers led the majors in the regular season by scoring 275 runs with two outs and runners in scoring position. The Giants had 173 runs -- good for 28th among the 30 teams. Only the Baltimore Orioles (171) and Seattle Mariners (149) scored fewer in those key situations.
The Rangers appear to be back. And that was a welcome relief to their worried fans who were treated to a muscle-driven fireworks show.
''It was all great,'' Hamilton said. ''Crowd was good, fireworks were awesome, but that's what we try to do. I mean, we try to entertain folks.''