SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Their ability to win on the road in the postseason has the Texas Rangers in the World Series for the first time. Trying to continue that success in San Francisco might remain a struggle.
Looking to avoid a 2-0 World Series deficit, the Rangers hope to end their woes at AT&T Park and become the first team in the postseason to get the best of Giants starter Matt Cain on Thursday.
Texas went 5-1 on the road against Tampa Bay and New York en route to the franchise’s first World Series appearance in 50 seasons. However, even with ace Cliff Lee on the mound, the Rangers were unable to build on that success and lost 11-7 in Game 1 at San Francisco on Wednesday.
The Rangers have dropped 12 straight in San Francisco, including 10 in a row at AT&T Park. Tuesday’s game was the first World Series opener at an NL ballpark since 2001.
In a hopeful sign for a Giants franchise seeking its first World Series title since 1954 when it was located in New York, 11 of the last 13 teams to win Game 1 have gone on to win the championship.
Texas is not about to panic.
“When you lose, it’s just a loss. You’re 0-1. So (Thursday), we’ve just got to get it together and see what happens,” Rangers catcher and former Giant Bengie Molina said. “The great thing about this team is that we don’t think about the loss.”
Ending the futility in San Francisco could be difficult against Cain, who has allowed one run, nine hits and struck out 11 over 13 2-3 innings while going 1-0 in two starts this postseason. The 26-year-old right-hander gave up two hits in seven innings of a 3-0 home win over Philadelphia in Game 3 of the NL championship series Oct. 19 – one of two shutouts for the Giants in six home playoff games.
“He’s commanding his fastball, and his secondary pitches, he’s throwing strikes and he’s getting it where he wants,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Cain was excellent in his only previous appearance against the Rangers, allowing a run and three hits while striking out eight in eight innings of a 2-1, 11-inning Giants home victory June 20, 2009.
Cain’s comfort in the postseason may indicate he won’t succumb to the pressure of his first World Series appearance.
“Obviously it’s going to be exciting,” Cain said. “You’ve got to try to take it like a normal start.”
Cain’s task will be easier if his teammates can deliver another strong effort at the plate despite rain being in the forecast for Thursday.
After scoring more than four runs only once against Atlanta and Philadelphia in the first two rounds, San Francisco recorded a postseason-high 14 hits and benefited from a six-run fifth inning to help overcome a 2-0 deficit in Game 1.
“It is something that hopefully the hitters can build on,” Bochy said. “You get confidence like that.”
Freddy Sanchez went 4 for 5 with three doubles and three RBIs, while Aubrey Huff added three hits and Juan Uribe hit a three-run homer. Sanchez is 13 for 25 in his last six games as he continues to impress in his first career postseason.
“More than anything he’s a good hitter, he’s seeing the ball well,” Bochy said. “He’s just getting some good swings off.”
Uribe is batting .156 in the playoffs but has homered in consecutive games. His solo shot in the eighth inning Saturday was the difference in the Giants’ 3-2, NL pennant-clinching victory in Game 6 at Philadelphia.
Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson will take the mound for his first appearance versus San Francisco.
After allowing three runs over 13 1-3 innings to go 1-0 in his first two postseason starts, Wilson gave up six runs, six hits – two homers – and four walks in five innings of a 7-2 loss in Game 5 of the ALCS at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 20.
Rangers manager Ron Washington has faith Wilson can rebound from that shaky start.
“He’ll come out (Thursday) and he’ll attack them the way we plan to attack them, and hopefully he’s getting pitches where he wants to,” Washington said. “Maybe (Thursday) can be a different day. Maybe we’ll end up scoring the runs.”
The Rangers, who hit .305 with 11 home runs on the road against the Rays and Yankees, had 11 hits Wednesday but failed to homer for the first time in the postseason.
Molina and Mitch Moreland each had two hits while Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz each had a pair of RBIs. Slugger Josh Hamilton’s postseason average dropped to .214 after he went 0 for 4.
Shortstop Elvis Andrus has hit safely in all 12 postseason games after going 1 for 3 with an RBI on Wednesday.
Texas also will look for a better defensive effort after becoming the first team in six years to make four errors in a World Series game. It also matched the Rangers’ error total from their previous six postseason road games.
“This isn’t really something we’re going to lose sleep over,” third baseman Michael Young said.
The Giants are seeking to become the first NL team to take a 2-0 World Series lead since Arizona did it against the New York Yankees in 2001.
The series moves to Arlington for Game 3 on Saturday.
(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)