McAdam at the World Series: Giants win with pitching

McAdam at the World Series: Giants win with pitching

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Sometimes, with all the advanced metrics, all the statistical analysis, all the mountains of data, baseball comes down to pitching. Pure and simple.

Case in point? The San Francisco Giants, 2010 champions.

Nobody in the lineup hit more than 25 home runs during the regular season and no one knocked in 90 runs. Even in the World Series, which they won Monday night with a 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers in Game Five, they hit a mere .249.

But here's the thing: They held the Rangers, one of the game's best lineups, to a .190 average. They shut them out twice in five games. And over the final 19 innings, in a ballpark known as one of the game's most hitter-friendly, they held the mighty Rangers to a single run on just six hits.

They weren't loaded with huge names or a fearsome lineup. But somehow, the Giants won the N.L. West, then beat the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Rangers.

How?

"Pitching,'' said outfielder Aaron Rowand without hesitation. "Pitching and defense wins championships. It's a cliche, but it's the truth. You can get to the postseason with a great offense. You can get there with shaky defense. But when you get to the postseason, pitching and defense wins championships.''

The duo of shortstop (and MVP) Edgar Renteria and second baseman Freddy Sanchez formed an unlikely double-play combination, and there were a few sparkling plays by others over the course of the five games.

But the Giants sprayed each other silly with champagne Monday night because their starters were dominant.

For the series, they combined to post a 2.38 ERA, allowing just 9 earned runs over 34 innings pitched. And those 34 were critical too -- in the five-game series, the starters left just 10 innings to their bullpen.

Take away the one poor start in five games, from Jonathan Sanchez, and the Giants' pitchers had an even more impressive 1.53 ERA.

Brian Sabean, the New Hampshire-born general manager of the Giants, has surely had more talented teams since taking over in 1996. His Giants, needing only one more win to take the the title, led in Game Six of the 2002 World Series only to lose that game and the next night, too, to the Anaheim Angels.

But none had the stockpile of arms that this edition had. Tim Lincecum (masterful Monday over eight innings), Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner were all first-round picks, and the the Giants' home-grown rotation was the first in the World Series since the 1986 Red Sox (Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst, Oil Can Boyd and Al Nipper).

"The best lesson learned is that pitching and defense can take you a long way,'' said Sabean. "It took us all the way to the World Series and actually won it for us. If you follow our team, it's kind of a standing joke: We don't know what's going to happen on any given night except that you're probably going to get a good pitching performance.

"Everybody expected that we'd come to Texas and be up against some runs scored, but it didn't turn out that way. I can't speak enough about our advance scouting and the way out pitchers executed the game plan.''

Lincecum won four games in the postseason and Cain wene 21 13 innings in October without giving up an unearned run. And Bumgarner, all of 21, was as dominant as any in winning Game Four Sunday night to set up the clinching victory Monday.

With the pitching in place, Sabean kept adding pieces along the way, picking up Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez well after the season started. He had his foundation -- his rotation -- already in place.

''I think the biggest decision we made,'' said Sabean, "was to not trade any of the pitching. We all believed that was the right thing to do. It turned out to be the real proof in the pudding. That's our foundation, that's the basis of this team.''

A championship team.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam.

Bryan Holaday: David Price 'takes a lot of pride in what he does'

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Bryan Holaday: David Price 'takes a lot of pride in what he does'

BOSTON -- There have been a significant amount of question marks surrounding David Price throughout his inaugural season with the Boston Red Sox.

Is he an ace? Is he mentally tough enough? Can he handle Boston?

Just to name a few.

Much like any player imported to Boston, the claim “He can’t handle the pressure in Boston” arises every so often.

And Price hasn’t always been his own best friend, frequently relying on the line “It’s me going out there and making pitches,” in addition to the claim that he’s never satisfied.

Price’s mellow demeanor isn’t something Boston fans are accustomed to -- they prefer Rick Porcello snarling at opponents.

Sometimes it might have seemed as if he lacked a killer instinct or didn’t have a sense of urgency, but Bryan Holaday, who played with Price in Detroit, has seen that’s not the case.

‘I’m sure he [pressing], it’s the nature of this game,” Holaday said about Price’s struggles earlier in the season. “Everybody wants to be at their best all the time and it’s not easy to do.”

However, he says that knowing full well that Price won’t display those emotions -- to anyone.

“He does such a good job on the mental side of things that even if he was, you wouldn’t be able to tell,” Holaday said before Price’s start Saturday night. “He’s never going to express anything like that. If he was [pressing], it’s nothing that anyone would be able to notice.”

There’s a lot to be said for that, too. Although baseball is driven on analytics, there’s no question that mental game is crucial, especially in the clubhouse. And a fly on the wall can easily see that Price’s presence is not only respected, but enjoyed by his teammates in the clubhouse.

“Everyday he gets up he wants to get better and that’s what makes him so good,” Holaday said. “He has that drive to be better everyday and come out and do his job. He takes a lot of pride in what he does and works his ass off. That’s why he is who he is. Any pitcher at that level, you don’t get that way by luck.”

Price may never be Boston’s favorite pitcher.

He may never be the “ace” in everyone’s eyes.

But based on Holday’s interpretations from his time in Detroit and Boston, Price will work hard to turn his first few months with the Red Sox into a minor footnote of his career.

Saturday's Red Sox-Royals lineups: Young in LF, Hill at 3B vs. KC lefty Duffy

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Saturday's Red Sox-Royals lineups: Young in LF, Hill at 3B vs. KC lefty Duffy

The Red Sox look to end their three-game losing streak tonight when the play the middle game of their three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.

Against Royals' left-hander Danny Duffy (11-1, 2.66 ERA), the Red Sox start right-handed hitters Chris Young in left field and Aaron Hill at third base. Duffy has won his past 10 decisions and came into Saturday with the fifth-best ERA in the American League. He joined the rotation from the bullpen on June 1.

Left-hander David Price (12-8, 4.00) gets the start for the Red Sox. Price has won his past three decisions, going eight, six and eight innings and not allowing more than three runs in each start. 

The Royals won the series opener 6-3 Friday night.

The lineups:

ROYALS
Paulo Orlando CF
Cheslor Cuthbert 3B
Lorenzo Cain RF
Eric Hosmer 1B
Kendrys Morales DH
Salvador Perez C
Alex Gordon LF
Alcides Escobar SS
Christian Colon 2B
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Danny Duffy LHP

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Sandy Leon C
Chris Young LF
Aaron Hill 3B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
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David Price LHP