ARLINGTON, Texas -- Greetings and Happy Halloween on another glorious night from Rangers Ballpark as we get set for Game Four of the World Series. "I Got Texas In My Soul" is pounding over the PA and there's a gorgeous sunset behind the first-base side of the park.
The Giants have a 2-1 lead in the series but manager Bruce Bochy has made several lineup switches. Pat Burrell, who is 0 for 9 with eight strikeouts in the series and fanned four times Saturday night, is out. Bochy moved Cody Ross from right field to left to take Burrell's place, while Nate Schierholtz gets his first start of the postseason playing right. Aubrey Huff moves to designated hitter and Travis Ishikawa his first start of the series at first.
Tommy Hunter pitches tonight for Texas against San Francisco rookie Madison Bumgarner. Naturally, it's a huge game but that's really accented by the pitching matchup for Game Five: A rematch of the Cliff Lee-Tim Lincecum showdown from Game One.
If the Giants win tonight, they could have their ace Lincecum pitching for the title here tomorrow. If the Rangers win, their ace would be trying to give them a home sweep and a 3-2 lead as we had back West.
As we await the first pitches from former Presidents Bush and Bush, here are the lineups:
San Francisco: Torres, cf; Sanchez, 2b; Huff, dh; Posey, c; Ross, lf; Uribe, 3b; Ishikawa, 1b; Renteria, ss; Schierholtz, rf. Pitcher: Bumgarner
Texas: Andrus, ss; Young, 3b; Hamilton, cf; Guerrero, dh; Cruz, lf; Kinsler, 2b; Francoeur, rf; Molina, c; Moreland, 1b. Pitcher: Hunter
As usual at these events when there's six gazillion media members and photographers and you're sitting among the fans, I'll be fighting for Internet bandwidth. We'll keep working on it to get you some updates/observations/thoughts as this one goes along.
Pregame: Solid anthem job by Lyle Lovett as a HUGE -- and I mean HUGE -- U.S. flag is unfurled in the outfield by servicemen. They do everything big here. Plus the Lone Star Texas state flag in center field. Cool.
Quite a scene as ex-President Bush drives his father in on a golf cart from left field (left) and they meet Nolan Ryan at the mound. Ryan then goes and makes the catch of the ceremonial pitch from the younger Bush, the former Rangers owner. The crowd gets good chuckles as former First Lady Barbara Bush is behind the screen snapping pictures and then starts a "USA, USA" chant after the pitch. Great stuff no matter what your political affiliation might be.
Then we get 7-year-old Liam Roybal giving us the "Play Ball" call. Who's he? He's the Dallas-area kid causing a stir here for dressing up as manager Ron Washington, moustache and bald head and all. Everyone in town is calling the kid Little Ron. Check out the link and you'll see why.
Top-1st: We're under way as Hunter throws a called strike to Torres at 7:22 CT (8:22 Eastern). The temperature is a balmy 77 degrees, or about 30 degrees warmer than it was on Halloween night last year in Philadelphia.
End-1st: No score through 1. Hunter got out of an early jam as Torres reached on an infield single and stole second. But he was left at third on a Posey groundout. Bumgarner looked shaky as he walked Andrus on four pitches. Young forced him as a wide throw by Sanchez foiled the double play. Renteria did the turn better on Hamilton, as the Rangers slugger hit into the DP to end the inning.
Mid-2nd: The Giants are turned away again as Hamilton makes a spectacular headlong dive (right) to spear Nate Schierholtz's two-out liner on the backhand and leave runners at the corners. Hunter got into that jam only because umpire Jeff Kellogg out-and-out blows the call at first on what should have been an inning-ending double play (Travis Ishikawa was clearly out). Washington came out to argue as the crowd booed. Even Little Ron could have made that call. Maybe the Rangers should have sent him out to argue!
Edgar Renteria then followed with a nine-pitch at-bat that finished with a single to send Ishikawa first-to-third. So Hunter had to throw 11 extra pitches (and is now at 44 through two innings) because of the blown call, the first real umpire issue of the series. No idea what Kellogg was looking at though. Ball wasn't in the dirt. Should have been easy.
End-2nd: Still zip-zip as Sanchez tries to one-up Hamilton with a leaping spear of a Francouer liner to end the inning and prevent Kinsler, who had walked, from going first to third.
Mid-3rd:Dallas-area native Aubrey Huff smacks his hometown team with a two-run homer to right on the first pitch and the Giants lead, 2-0. But this was set up by the way the Giants are killing Hunter by working counts. Torres led off with a double off the first-base bag on the eighth pitch he saw. Sanchez then grounded to third on the ninth pitch -- after fouling off five 0-2 deliveries. Huff then struck on an 86-mph offering, sending it 404 feet down the line. Hunter recovered to fan Posey and get Ross on a fly ball but he's thrown 72 pitches in three innings (48 strikes) and simply can't get the Giants to swing through any of his offerings.. The Rangers' pen is getting some work tonight.
End-3rd: The Rangers have no hits off Bumgarner. He's thrown only 42 pitches through three. The rookie has ice in his veins based on his relief stint in the NLCS and now this outing.
End-4th: The Rangers get their first hit, Young's infield single to second. But he's erased on a fielder's choice and the inning eventually ends with Hamilton caught stealing. The Huff home run has completely sucked the life out of this place. Even with Lee going tomorrow, you can sense the fear of a 3-1 deficit facing Lincecum. And Alexei Ogando is replacing Hunter to start the fifth.
End-5th: Giants hold their 2-0 lead as Bumgarner needs just eight pitches to get through the innings. He's got a one-hitter going on just 61 pitches and has been in complete control after the obvious jittery four-pitch walk he issued to Andrus leading off the first. He's thrown first-pitch strikes to 12 of the 15 hitters since.
Top-6th: Ogando retired all five Giants he faced, two on strikeouts, and was really dealing. But now he's gone, apparently hurting an oblique or a back muscle on an 0-1 pitch to Uribe. Darren Oliver comes on. Update: Oliver gets Uribe on a popup to end the inning and it's confirmed that Ogando has an oblique strain. See you at spring training in Arizona.
Mid-7th: At God Bless America, it's looking good for the Giants. Torres lines a two-out double to the gap in right-center off Oliver to score Renteria, who has singled three times, and that makes it 3-0, San Francisco. Hope you folks will cut me some slack tonight as the print deadline beckons with a start that was a full 90 minutes later than last night.
Top-8th: Posey goes deep to center to make it 4-0 off Darren O'Day, who blows up again coming out of the pen. Posey and Bumgarner, by the way, are the first rookie battery in a Series game since Spec Shea and Yogi Berra of the Yankees worked in the opener in 1947 against Brooklyn.
End-8th: Still 4-0 for the Giants. Bumgarner has a three-hit shutout going but the last three outs were hard drives to left, with Francoeur taking him to the wall in this inning. He's at 105 pitches and you have to believe that's going to be it for him.
One win to go for the Giants: Brian Wilson pitches a 1-2-3 ninth as San Fran wins 4-0. Lincecum goes for the clincher tomorrow.
Photos: Associated Press