SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – The big bats in Texas’ lineup have gone mostly silent, and the Rangers are going home in a huge World Series hole.
Even when Michael Young and Josh Hamilton hit consecutive singles in the sixth inning Thursday night, the Rangers missed their chances to score. They lost 9-0 to Matt Cain and the San Francisco Giants, falling behind 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
“The way we’re playing, it’s just not us,” slugger Nelson Cruz said.
Talk about Texas toast — teams from the Lone Star State are 0-6 in World Series games. The Houston Astros were swept in four games by the Chicago White Sox five years ago in their only appearance.
The Rangers managed only four hits in Game 2 and went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. At least now they get to leave San Francisco. Texas plays the first World Series home game in the franchise’s 50 seasons with Game 3 on Saturday night.
The Rangers, who have never won in 11 games at AT&T Park, have to take at least two of three at home to force the series back to the ballpark by the bay next week.
They better find some offense fast, especially from the middle of the lineup. Young, Hamilton and Cruz are a combined 3 for 25 (.120) in the World Series, and the Rangers are hitting .227 as a team.
The pitching’s been even worse. Cliff Lee was roughed up in the opener and the bullpen was a bust in San Francisco. The Rangers gave up a six-run inning Wednesday night and a seven-run eighth in Game 2.
“Honestly, now more than ever, just relax,” Hamilton said when asked what the Rangers need to do. “Everybody says the pressure’s on us. You can’t feel that way. … We’ve got to go have fun.”
There’s been none of that so far.
Hamilton, the majors’ leading hitter in the regular season at .359, is 1 for 8 and hasn’t driven in a run. That’s the same as Young, the longest-tenured Rangers player in his 10th season and the team’s career hits leader.
With Young at third and Hamilton on second after their hits and a wild pitch by Cain, Cruz fouled out to the first baseman. Ian Kinsler, who nearly homered earlier, flied out to end the inning and slammed his helmet in frustration.
“I got the right pitch. … I popped it up. My timing is not there. I should have done a lot better than that. We expect to do better,” Cruz said. “We have to go home and figure out a way to win.”
Kinsler declined comment after the game.
Leadoff hitter Elvis Andrus drew a one-out walk and stole second base in the eighth, when the Rangers still trailed only 2-0. He was stranded there when Young and Hamilton flied out.
San Francisco scored seven runs in the bottom half off four relievers, breaking the game open.
The game was scoreless when Kinsler led off the fifth with a drive that hit the top of the center-field wall and ricocheted back into play for a double. Kinsler got no farther because the Rangers didn’t hit another ball out of the infield that inning.
Edgar Renteria, the No. 8 hitter in the San Francisco order, hit a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth. That was enough for the Giants, though they piled on plenty more later.
“We had some opportunities early in the ballgame to put some runs on the board, and we had the right people up there, and (Cain) made his pitches. That’s what he does well,” manager Ron Washington said. “We just couldn’t get it done.”
Missing from the lineup in Game 2 was Vladimir Guerrero. The Rangers’ usual designated hitter has to play in the field in the NL park, and he made two errors in right in the 11-7 loss in Game 1.
While Guerrero had his miscues in the field, both errors came in the eighth inning after the opener had already gotten out of hand. He at least contributed offensively with a pair of RBIs, on a single in the first and later a sacrifice fly.
Washington insisted before Game 2 that the errors had nothing to do with the decision for Guerrero not to start again, though he also talked about wanting to keep the slugger’s bat in the lineup. The manager said Guerrero would be in the outfield again if the series gets back to the West Coast.
That seems like a big if right now.
This is the first time the AL champions have been down by two games this postseason.
They lost the first game of the AL championship series against the New York Yankees, but then won three straight and eventually won the ALCS in six games. Texas lost consecutive games in the AL division series against Tampa Bay after winning the first two, then clinched in Game 5.
Texas, usually the team putting up the big run totals, instead gave up the most runs (20) ever by a team in its first two World Series games.
“We’ll keep our same approach. We’re a confident team. … You just look for different results,” Young said. “This team is the most mentally tough group I’ve ever been around. We’re not going to think twice about it. … The biggest thing is making sure we keep getting guys out there. If we do that, we’ll be in great shape.”
If they don’t, the World Series could be over quick.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)