Rangers' title dreams dashed by Lincecum
Offensive struggles short-circuit first trip to World Series
ARLINGTON -- The dream died in Game 5 on Monday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers just could never get their offense going against the dominating pitching thrown at them night after night by the San Francisco Giants.Game 1 aside, the 2010 World Series was never more complicated than that, and the best season in Rangers history came to an inglorious end with a 3-1 loss to Tim Lincecum and the Giants before 52,045 fans at the Ballpark. "This stinks," third baseman Michael Young said in the Rangers' somber clubhouse after an extended postgame team meeting. "It's great to get to the World Series, but losing makes it worse." "It hurts," outfielder David Murphy said. "We definitely didn't come this far to see the opposing team celebrate on your home field. You play seven or eight months to come up on top, hoist the trophy, get the ring, celebrate with your teammates."
The Rangers weren't able to do that. Starter Cliff Lee engaged Lincecum in a taut, dazzling pitching duel, but ended up yielding the big blow when Edgar Renteria broke through in a scoreless game with a three-run homer in the seventh.Lincecum ended up allowing just one run on three hits over eight innings. He walked just two and struck out 10 in beating Lee for the second time in two matchups involving these two former Cy Young Award winners. "They just outpitched us the whole series," Lee said. "Their pitchers did an unbelievable job." The Rangers lost Game 1, 11-7, but then scored just five runs in the final 36 innings of the series. All five runs came on home runs, including Nelson Cruz's shot in the bottom of the seventh. Texas scored four runs in a 4-2 win in Game 3 and one run over 27 innings in three losses in Games 2, 4 and 5. The Rangers hit .190 and went 5-for-28 with runners in scoring position for the series. The Giants ended up with a 2.45 ERA, including a 2.38 ERA by their starters. "As a competitor, you want to put it on yourself," Young said. "They threw the ball well, but no matter who is out there, we still feel we're capable of scoring runs. We just didn't get it done." Instead, the Rangers will have to settle for their first division title since 1999, their first two playoff series wins and their first trip to the World Series. "I am extremely proud of this team," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We went through a lot. This is a tight-knit group and I'm proud of what we accomplished. We didn't accomplish everything we wanted to, but we accomplished a lot. We made history for this organization." Manager Ron Washington expressed similar sentiments to his team in the clubhouse afterward. "Well, I'm very proud of, number one, my players, the way they showed up every single day, and they played the game with a passion," Washington said. "[I'm proud of] the way they were committed to each other. I'm very proud of my coaching staff for keeping that together. I'm very proud of the organization for supplying me with the players that I had. I'm very proud of the scouting staff, the development staff; everything that had anything to do with the Texas Rangers, I'm very proud of it."
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The Rangers arrived at the Ballpark still holding hope they could achieve their ultimate goal. They were down 3-1 in the Series but still had Lee on the mound, and they felt they could take the Series back to San Francisco."This is by far the most mentally tough team I've ever been on," Young said. "That's what made it so much fun to come to the ballpark. That's why we got here. We came out with max effort trying to find a way to get the job done." Both pitchers were at their best for six innings. The Giants managed just three singles off Lee. The Rangers had two singles and a walk off Lincecum. At that point, it appeared that the game wouldn't be decided until one or both teams had to go to the bullpen. But everything changed in the seventh. The Giants' rally started when Cody Ross and Juan Uribe lined singles up the middle, putting runners on first and second. Aubrey Huff, who had never dropped a sacrifice bunt in an 11-year Major League career, then did just that, moving the runners to second and third. Lee, with the sellout crowd standing on its feet, struck out Pat Burrell, but fell behind 2-0 to Renteria. He had first base open but wasn't interested in walking him. "I'm not trying to pitch around anybody," Lee said. "I should have been more fine with my pitches, but I don't want to walk anybody. That's the way I've pitched all year." He threw a cut fastball, one of his best weapons. But it was up, and Renteria hit it high and deep over the left-center-field wall for a back-breaking, knee-buckling three-run home run. "Cliff wasn't making too many mistakes today," Giants outfielder Aaron Rowand said. "He was hitting the corners with his cutter and his sinker. He didn't leave much over the fat part of the plate. Edgar got one, and he didn't miss it." The Rangers, trailing, 3-0, finally got a run in the bottom of the seventh when Cruz homered with one out. That ended a streak of 18 consecutive scoreless innings by Giants pitching. Cruz was also the first Rangers player to touch second base in the game. Turns out he was the only one. "They definitely had great pitching," Cruz said. "Their pitching killed our offense. They just played better than us." Lincecum then walked Kinsler, but that was the last Rangers baserunner. He struck out Murphy and Bengie Molina, retired the side in order in the eighth and watched as closer Brian Wilson did the same in the ninth. The end came when Cruz struck out for the third out in the ninth. "Not much worked for us this series," Kinsler said. "We won one game. We got hot at the end of the season and stayed hot against Tampa Bay and New York, but the Giants ... they pitched better than us. They did everything better than us." That's how the greatest season in Rangers history finally came to an end.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.