Cliff Lee facing off against Tim Lincecum in Game 1 of the World Series was supposed to epitomize the “Year of the Pitcher” as two of the best arms in the game, and two pitchers who have dominated opponents this postseason.

Lee, the Texas Rangers ace, entered the start with a 0.75 ERA in four postseason outings in which he issued just one walk compared to 34 strikeouts.

Lincecum’s statistics weren’t nearly as mind-blowing, but he picked up where he left off in the regular season in helping push the San Francisco Giants past the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.

Given their excellence and what was expected of the duo, who would have thought that neither one would complete six innings or that 11 combined runs would be allowed by the former Cy Young award winners?

11 combined runs, and it came as a shock to many to watch Lee allow the majority.

This is a pitcher who has possessed control that reminded of Greg Maddux. He made the Rays and Yankees look silly. He mixed his pitches impeccably.

Both Tampa Bay and New York knew it would be tough, and it turned out to be nearly impossible to even scrounge out a run against him. He was that good.

But he wasn’t that good against the Giants. For the first time in a long time he was hit and hit hard.

Texas scored a run in the first as Lincecum struggled against an offense that ranked first in the American League this season.

The consensus was that this may be enough for Lee. When a second run was scored in the next inning, the deficit was presumed nearly improbable to overcome give Lee’s prior dominance.

But it was far from that. A double was clubbed by Freddy Sanchez in the first and Aubrey Huff hit one in the second, and though neither scored, the pair of two-baggers gave a glimpse into Lee’s mortality.

The third was a nightmarish frame for Lee, and more bad dreams were to come.

Edgar Renteria reached to begin the inning, as third baseman Michael Young misplayed a grounder. And with that error the floodgates opened and the first wheel fell off of Lee’s once dependable truck.

After an unproductive out made by Lincecum, Torres was plunked in the forearm, signifying Lee’s lacking location, and then Sanchez scorched a double to left, scoring the first of many runs by the Giants.

A tying run soon followed, as Buster Posey added to his legend by lacing a single up the middle.

Hard hit balls were relatively uncommon against Lee over his first four starts this postseason. They came in droves in Game 1 of the World Series.

No inning was more of an example of this than the fifth.

Lee fooled no one, especially Sanchez and Juan Uribe. Following a one-out double by Torres, who logged over 1,000 minor league games before reaching the majors, Sanchez notched his third double, a shot into the left-center gap.

The Giants had the lead, and their advantage would only get larger as San Francisco played the way the Rangers did in disposing the Yankees.

The real fun began after Posey recorded the second out.

Producing two-out magic was Texas’ forté against New York, but they were given a taste of their own medicine.

Pat Burrell swung for the fences when he had the chance, as he had done in his first two at-bats, but was patient enough to work a walk. This proved to be the most important at-bat of the game so far, as the two-out free pass opened the floodgates.

Lee’s fastball wasn’t sharp, nor were his off-speed pitches altogether deceptive. He was clearly off his game pitching on eight days rest in front of a raucous crowd. The Giants showed no mercy, Cody Ross, Aubrey Huff and Uribe lowered the boom.

The two former hitters singled to center, scoring the Giants third and fourth runs, and then Uribe, who had a pivotal three-run blast against Philadelphia in Game 6, drove them home against reliever Darren O’Day.

A fastball was grooved right into Uribe’s wheelhouse from the side-armed right-hander, and the third baseman didn’t miss it, lifting a deep fly into the seats in left-center. Its majestic flight into the jubilant crowd had the Rangers shaking their heads.

It was now 8-2 Giants, with seven runs attached to Lee.

Lincecum had a hiccup in the Rangers top half of the sixth, but he improved his record to 39-0 in his career when given four runs or more of support.

The eventual tally of 11 was plenty, even for a shaky bullpen. San Francisco had drawn first blood.

Three more wins and a championship banner will fly proudly by the bay, and though it’s only Game 1, disposing of Lee as they did Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson and the Phillies “H20″ of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels Grand Roy Oswalt previously this postseason is a great start to what should be an exhilarating World Series.


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