Even though both teams had to get by last seasons’ league pennant winners, the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants are set to face each other in the 2010 World Series.
Although probably no one outside of Arlington or the Bay Area expected it — the two squads haven’t won a World Series in the modern era.
For the Rangers, this isn’t just their first World Series appearance, they hadn’t even won a postseason series until this month. Now that they have two series wins under their belt, the former Washington Senators franchise is on a roll and have built a rabid fan base of Texans that are filling Nolan Ryan’s house with unwavering support.
The Giants, on the other hand, haven’t won a World Series since they made the move to San Francisco from New York in 1958.
In July, the National League won their first All-Star game in more than a decade, giving the Giants home-field advantage in the series. Here are some other factors that will determine the winner of the 106th World Series:
The Rangers will win if...
• Cliff Lee can remain perfect in the postseason
Lee is 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight career postseason starts, including 3-0 this year with the Rangers. In just two postseasons, Lee already holds numerous playoff pitching records, including having 30 strikeouts between walks at one point and having five 10-strikeout games in the postseason, a record he shares with Randy Johnson. In all likelihood, the latter record will be shattered by Lee in the near future. He will try to keep the Giants hitters off balance with his Greg Maddux-like fastball location, consistent curve ball and deceptive cutter. He will be working on full rest for Game 1.
• Mitch Moreland can stay on his ALCS tear at the plate
Moreland, who is filling in at first base for Jorge Cantu, hit .389 in the ALCS while scoring three runs and driving in three more. If Moreland can continue to bat like this to complement Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Jr., Vladimir Guerrero, Michael Young and Elvis Andrus, Ron Washington’s Rangers will be in a good spot offensively.
• Josh Hamilton can continue to leave the ballpark
If anyone is going to hit any balls into AT&T Park McCovey Cove (over right field fence and concourse), it’s going to be Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, who knocked four home runs off of Yankee pitchers in the ALCS and hit .350. Hamilton anchors the Texas lineup and hopes to have just one more ginger ale celebration this season.
The Giants will win if...
• Cody Ross can keep playing like a Triple Crown champion
Ross is hitting .324 this postseason and has hit four home runs in 10 playoff games, including three against the Phillies in the NLCS. He has gone 11-34 with eight RBI and six runs against the likes of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Tim Hudson. If he can keep holding down the bottom of the San Francisco lineup and Aubrey Huff, Buster Posey and Pat Burrell continue to produce in the heart of the order, the Giants may be able to score enough runs against Lee, Colby Lewis, Tommy Hunter and C.J. Wilson.
• The city of San Francisco can avert a natural disaster from happening
From the heavy floods of the 1962 World Series to the earthquake of 1989, the Giants have experienced a myriad of troubles with weather and seemingly fateful disasters. Not to mention, Dusty Baker’s son Darren almost got trampled at home plate as a bat boy in 2002 before being taken out of harm’s way by Giants runner J.T. Snow.
• The bullpen can hold up in close games
The Giants have become masters of one-run games, as displayed three times against the Braves and again versus the Phillies. The core relieving crew of Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and closer Brian Wilson will have to hold firm against the potent Texas offense, which is sure to test Wilson and crew, especially in late innings in the games in Arlington. With starters as good as Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Matt Cain, the Giants need only to score a few runs each game to have a chance to win, but the bullpen must remain solid and avoid walks.
Prediction: Giants in 7