Vladimir Guerrero Out, David Murphy in for Texas in Game 2

Vladimir Guerrero served as the DH for Texas 140 times this year. It only took one game for him to prove to Ron Washington and fans everywhere why he’s best suited with a bat in his hands and not a glove. Vlad let a routine ball to fight field go past him in the 8th inning of Game 1 Wednesday night and he also mishandled another ball hit down the line that same inning. He had half of Texas’ season-high four errors in Game 1 and will be taking a seat for Game 2 after the dreadful performance.

David Murphy, who had a pinch hit RBI single in Game 1, will crack the starting lineup as the left fielder while Nelson Cruz moves over to right. Murphy played 82 games in left field and 51 more in right this year, so he’s used to playing the outfield. Murphy OPSd .806 in the regular season and is posting a .789 line in the post-season. Murphy’s offensive production was similar to Vlad’s in the regular season and David is hitting better in the playoffs, so the defensive upgrade is well worth the change. It is likely to be a low-scoring game, unlike the shocker in Game 1, so a defensive miscue can make the difference. Texas is wise to make the change, but we’ll still likely see Vlad pinch hit late in the game.

Cliff Lee Lets Rangers Down, Freddy Sanchez Lifts Giants Up

Cy Young Award winners Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum were set to square off in Game 1 of the World Series between the Rangers and Giants. The matchup between the aces should have produced a 2-1 game with an over-under run total line of 4.5, and the wise better would have gone with the under. But that’s why they play games with bats, balls, and gloves and not pencils, papers, and Vegas oddsmakers.

Never in my baseball watching years could I have imagined that Cliff Lee would blow a 2-0 lead, throw over 100 pitches, and not make it out of the 5th inning against the Giants. The previously unbeatable strike-throwing robot as Alan Hull likes to call him gave up two runs in the 3rd and three more in the 5th (though he was charged with four). Freddy Sanchez, Cody Ross, and Aubrey Huff all hit him hard in the 5th inning, largely because Phifer wasn’t locating his pitches. Darren O’Day relieved Lee and gave up a three-run bomb to Juan Uribe which really seemed to seal the win. And it wasn’t even the pitching that let Texas down; they committed four errors in the game which was a season high.

Former batting champ Freddy Sanchez truly showed up. The Burbank boy went 4-for-5 with three doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored. His first double was an opposite field bloop job that was lucky to fall in fair territory, but every other hit after that was stung well. Aubrey Huff added three hits and knocked Lee out of the game with a line drive up the middle. If San Francisco could win the game many of us already handed to Texas then they’re in excellent shape to take it all. As someone who dislikes the Giants, I have to admit I’m worried. Where’s Dusty Baker to bring in Livan Hernandez when you need him?

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Angels Great Bengie Molina Ties World Series Together

It’s no surprise that one of the best catchers in Major League Baseball history also happens to be in an extremely fortunate position. Bengie Molina stands to receive a World Series ring regardless of the outcome in the Best of 7 series between the Giants and Rangers.

Molina played 61 games for the Giants before being traded mid-season to the Rangers where he played 57 games. San Francisco signed Bengie to a one-year deal in the off-season and traded him during the year because of the emergence of rookie catcher Buster Posey. The Giants kept Posey in the minors at the beginning of the season to avoid having his MLB service time begin, and he played first when he was initially called up. San Francisco decided their best lineup would include Posey at catcher and Aubrey Huff at first, so they traded Molina to move Buster behind the dish. The trade worked out well for both teams.

Texas, which seemed to be littered with catching options, saw Jarrod Saltalamacchia develop a Mackey Sasser-like throwing problem, and Max Ramirez and Taylor Teagarden fail to produce offensively. Molina’s addition gave them a strong, reliable veteran presence even if Bengie struggled at the plate. Molina has made up for his offensive shortcomings during the regular season with two home runs and seven RBIs in the post-season. Additionally, Bengie’s defensive contribution cannot be underestimated.

The comments of Tim Lincecum tell the story, “He’s meant a lot to me, and he’s meant a lot to this team. He’s part of the reason why we’re here and obviously part of the reason why they’re here, too.” Perfectly stated. If anyone were to receive a ring for his contributions to two teams, Bengie Molina is so deserving.

Good News Yankees: Cliff Lee Won’t Hold Spitting on His Wife Against You

Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee already passed his tryout for his future team beating the Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS. Phifer went eight scoreless of two-hit ball, walking one and striking out 13. The stupendous southpaw is getting set for his second straight appearance in the World Series and his free agency price tag goes up with every start.

It’s a foregone conclusion that Lee will be wearing pinstripes next season, but New Yorkers were beginning to worry after Bob Nightengale’s feature in USA Today described the disgusting acts Yankees fans took against Lee’s wife during the ALCS. “She says there were ugly taunts. Obscenities. Cups of beer thrown. Even fans spitting from the section above.”

Well good news Yankees fans, Phifer is sensible and won’t hold it against you. Asked about the incident, he said Tuesday “Some people get a little alcohol in them and act inappropriate. There’s so many people there you can’t control them all. I know it’s been made into a big deal, but that’s really all it is, just two or three or four people just acting like fools, and 50,000, you can’t group them all together. But there’s always going to be a couple goofballs in the crowd that think they have a right to do that stuff.”

Lee may be taking the reasonable approach here, but you know there will be an extra surcharge the Yanks will have to pay as an apology for the fans’ behavior in the ALCS. I’m expecting Lee to join his buddies CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett on the Yankees next season. He’ll definitely be cashing in and helping the Yanks make a World Series run next year.

Cody Ross Wanted to be a Rodeo Clown, Settled for Playing Professional Baseball

The playoffs is the time when more fans pay attention and players’ reputations are made. Swing it like a stud and you’ll be honored with a legendary nickname such as “Mr. October.” Flop and they’ll call you “A-Fraud” or “Mr. May.” Stand out with superior play and fans everywhere will recognize you for your accomplishments. Giants outfielder Cody Ross has done just that, going from part-time player to post-season super hero.

Ross has carried the Giants in the playoffs, hitting four home runs and driving in eight runs, doubling the next highest total of his teammates. He has four of their six home runs and is OPSing 1.189 while his next highest teammate is Pat Burrell at .737. Ross drove in two of San Francisco’s three runs in the series-clinching Game 4 against the Braves. He took Roy Halladay deep twice in Game 1 of the NLCS, a 4-3 win. His home run off Roy Oswalt provided the lone run for the team in a loss the next night. Ross also hit a double in three straight games to end the Philadelphia series. He has gotten hot, carried his team, and endeared himself to an entire fanbase. Oh yeah, and he’s not even fulfilling his childhood dream!

“When I was younger that’s all I wanted to do, be a rodeo clown. I guess I thought that riding the bull was too dangerous,” Ross said. “Actually being a rodeo clown is probably a little more dangerous than that. You have to protect the guy from getting stepped on and run over. I just liked the way they were, maybe it was the mentality they had, no fear. That was probably the reason I was so drawn to them.”

That’s the sort of thing that happens when your father is a cowboy who enjoys roping and wrestling steers. Good thing Ross dedicated himself to baseball because he sure is good at it. Now we know what he’ll be doing in retirement.

Neftali Feliz Guarantee? Rangers Have Better Team, Will Win World Series

We noted yesterday that the Rangers are favorites to win the World Series over the Giants. Walking into the Texas locker room, closer Neftali Feliz admitted to me that he had seen the story on LBS and agreed.

OK, that didn’t happen, but he really did tell Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes that the Rangers have the better team and that they’ll win the World Series. Rojas relayed Feliz’s thoughts via twitter, prompting ESPN college basketball writer Diamond Leung to wonder if the guarantee makes Feliz “Jose Namath.” Guarantees are getting played out and nobody did it as well as Joe Namath who said it when it actually meant something.

Feliz is expressing confidence in his team as he should be. Between their pitching and the way they’re hitting, they appear to be the better team and that’s why they’re favored. Texas has the advantage with Cliff Lee starting Game 1 on Wednesday, but Game 2 goes back to the Giants as they have Matt Cain over C.J. Wilson. When it heads to Texas for Game 3, I’d put Colby Lewis as the slight favorite over Jonathan Sanchez. LBS author Danny Lee says it will be a snoozer, but I’m excited for the World Series. As a baseball fan, it’s impossible not to be.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Giants Fan Offers Weed for World Series Tickets on Craigslist

Craigslist: Where idiots meet to exchange tickets for pot and attract undercover cops. This has to be a fake because you’re just asking for trouble, but I guess some people really are that dumb. Here’s the hilarious post on craigslist in San Francisco brought to our attention by SI Hot Clicks:

Now that’s taking barter to a whole new level. Just a thought: why doesn’t this person sell the 420 and buy tickets with the proceeds? I guess if you’re making such a post in the first place you’re probably not too bright and that’s a little too much to ask.