Ozzie Guillen, providing some pre-game analysis yesterday prior to the start of Game 3 of the 2010 World Series said it all. "This is the most important game in the history of the Rangers franchise," Guillen correctly and succinnctly noted.
For, it is one thing that this was the first Series game held in Arlington. But, going down 3-0 would simply have been crippling to the Rangers team, hence a win was as close to critical as any win, any time, can be to a team.
Of course I was on the couch, with a fire, for it was a rainy bay area afternoon, ready for the first pitch, watching to start with my brother-in-law Eric, his daughter Lindsay and her friend Cailin. Diane arrived shortly thereafter with a stack of pizzas and Eric's wife Jill, and his mom Edie trickled in as the game progressed. Meaning we had a full house, and Pavlov, our youngest dog, had more than enough attention.
For me, the most interesting aspect of watching the game was checking out the differnence between the two DH's of the day: for San Francisco Pablo Sandoval, and for Texas Vladimir Guerrero.
Over that past seasons, I have referred to Sandoval as a poor man's Vlady for both are not just free swingers, but both are good bad pitch hitters. Meaning they don't so much take advantage of mistakes, but more they hands are quick enough to turn on a bad pitch, out of the zone, and do something with it.
Howver, the difference between the two is Vlady is far more discriminating even with such an odd set of parameters. The reality is Guerrero has cobbled together a fine career--one just shy of HOF consideration but substantial none-the-less--while Sandoval, following a terrific sophomore year has simply been unable to adjust and as a result might well have lost not just a starting position, but his usefullness on a major league roster in the first place.
To his credit, Pablo did finally take a first pitch his first two at-bats, and that, for anyone who has watched the current king of the free swingers, that was encouraging. The problem was Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis was on top of his game, and he put his first pitch over to Pablo, eliciting that wild swing, and a subsequent out, from Sandoval.
Actually, Lewis was a lot of the problem the Giants had yesterday, tossing 73 of 104 pitches for strikes, and pretty much forcing the Giants into his game. The other problem was the very good nine-pitch at-bat that Rangers first sacker Mitch Moreland had against Jonathan Sanchez. For, pitch nine was a fastball that hung, and Moreland crushed it for a three-run shot and that was pretty much all the Rangers needed in this all important game to prevail.
Actually, aside from hanging two fastballs--one to Moreland and another to Josh Hamilton--Sanchez did not pitch poorly. But, Lewis was a lot better.
In the end Pablo and Vlady went a collective 0-for-6, and far be it from me to suggest anything to Vlady--aside from the fact that he is no longer an outfielder--regarding his game.
But Pablo has a lot going for him. He is big, and could lose some weight, but Pablo also moves fairly quickly and has good reflexes. If you have seen him play third base, you will know this to be true. Not that Sandoval is Brooks Robinson, or even Ryan Zimmerman, but he is ok.
However, Pablo might want to take a lesson from Moreland's book, where fouling of close pitches, and being somewhat discriminating is the way to force the pitcher to toss a pitch the hitter can handle. Because, that simple ability was the difference in Game 3.
That resulted in a win and as result the Rangers have some life. They also held up their end of the bargain, winning the most important game in the history of their franchise.
And that is a pretty neat trick!