Giants Win World Series Opener Over Rangers

The San Francisco Giants beat the Texas Rangers 11-7 Wednesday night to take a 2-1 lead in the World Series. Freddy Sanchez became the first player to hit three doubles in his first three at-bats in a World Series. Game 2 is Thursday night.

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

The San Francisco Giants beat the Texas Rangers in game one of the World Series last night. More precisely, the Giants beat pitcher Cliff Lee in an 11-7 victory. If you've paid any attention to the baseball playoffs, you will know Cliff Lee has seemed an unbeatable force in the postseason - not last night.

From San Francisco, here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN: It had gotten to the point where we all expected Cliff Lee to wear a cape with an S emblazoned on his chest instead of a Texas Rangers uniform. Can you blame us? He'd never lost in the playoffs in his pitching career. He was seven and 0, with a 1.26 earned run average. A low ERA is good, and 1.26 is very low.

AT: Just how do you beat Cliff Lee? Well, like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRACK OF BAT)

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

GOLDMAN: And this.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

GOLDMAN: And this.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

GOLDMAN: That was, in order, Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez hitting his third double in his third at bat - a World Series record - giving San Francisco a three to two lead, outfielder Cody Ross with a single for a four to two Giants lead, and first baseman Aubrey Huff - a single up the middle for a five to two lead - all in the same inning, and all leading to a sight not seen ever: Cliff Lee leaving a playoff game that he would ultimately lose.

Goliath was gone, but David wasn't done celebrating. San Francisco third baseman Juan Uribe came up against the pitcher who replaced Lee and clubbed a three run home run. All in all, a six run, fifth inning that put San Francisco up eight to two, and Texas simply down.

Afterwards, Cody Ross was asked if he could explain what happened.

CODY ROSS: He would probably say that he was off, and we'd probably say that we're on. I mean, that's probably - that's the way this game is. I mean, we felt like we swung the bats good tonight. And I'm sure he probably felt like he didn't throw the ball as well as he did.

GOLDMAN: Lee, wearing a sweater, jeans, tennis shoes and not a cape, acknowledged afterwards he wasn't able to, his words, command his pitches. But he agreed with Ross about those San Francisco bats.

CLIFF LEE: You've got to give credit to those hitters. I mean, yeah, I was catching more plate than I would like to, but they swung the bat. You know, they were finding holes early, and then there in the fifth, they started squaring things up pretty good.

Unidentified Man #1: When you look at (unintelligible)...

GOLDMAN: It was by design. Ross says the Giants' plan was to attack Lee. He's a pitcher who throws all around the strike zone, and the Giants wanted to be ready to hit early. And they did. According to the Associated Press, Lee threw first-pitch strikes to 15 batters. Seven of those hitters swung at those first pitches.

Beating the best playoff pitcher in baseball certainly gives a team confidence, and the Giants talked about continuing their aggressive approach tonight in game two. Last night, of course, was just one game, and no one was celebrating - at least inside AT&T park.

Unidentified Woman: Giants. Giants. Giants.

GOLDMAN: Outside, of course, was a different scene. Giants fans Scott Boyles and Jordan Wright from Sacramento declared the series over now that their team had beaten the Rangers' best pitcher. And about those three runs Texas scored in the ninth inning to make it a nervous ending to an otherwise happy night for San Francisco?

Unidentified Man #2: Torture, baby. You can't - that was torture.

GOLDMAN: That is the slogan here: Giants baseball, torture. It speaks of years of bitter defeats, often watched in miserable conditions by the Bay. One big fifth inning, though, on a mild evening went a long way toward easing the pain.

Tom Goldman, NPR News, San Francisco.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LOUISE KELLY: This is NPR News.

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