SAN FRANCISCO — Fans jumped up and down, shaking orange pompoms, waving scarves and chanting “Sweep! Sweep!”
While the Giants are looking more and more like a baseball juggernaut, they’re only halfway to their first World Series title in 56 years. They hope to wrap it up on the road.
“We’ve just got to take that confidence and some of the good approaches that we’ve had into these last two games and take them down to Texas with us,” Matt Cain said after Thursday night’s 9-0 win over the Texas Rangers gave San Francisco a 2-0 Series lead.
Cain pitched 7 2-3 innings and combined with his bullpen on a four-hitter, and Edgar Renteria reprised his October success with a home run and three RBIs.
While the Giants had the best ERA in the majors during the regular season, they were just 17th in runs — the fewest among the eight postseason teams. Yet San Francisco has outscored Texas 20-7 and outhit the Rangers .314 to .227. The Giants’ offense is picking up speed faster than a cable car heading down Nob Hill.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good situation,” said Cain, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in the postseason.
After a day off, the Series resumes for the first time in Arlington, Texas. Colby Lewis starts Game 3 for the Rangers on Saturday night against Jonathan Sanchez.
Forty of the previous 51 teams to take a 2-0 lead have gone on to win the title, including seven straight and 13 of the last 14.
“I don’t think we caught any breaks yet,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We certainly don’t feel like we’re defeated. We’re heading home. They took care of us in their ballpark, now we’re headed to ours.”
San Francisco improved to 11-0 against Texas at AT&T Park and got its third shutout in nine postseason wins. The Giants sent the high-octane Rangers offense to its first shutout since Sept. 23.
Not bad for a team that scored 19 runs in its six-game NL championship series win over Philadelphia.
“Unbelievable,” said Renteria, who has just eight regular-season homers in the last two years. “You guys know I have power.”
No team has overcome a 2-0 Series deficit since the 1996 New York Yankees against Atlanta. The Giants have won each time they took a 2-0 lead: in 1922, 1933 and 1954.
“We’re not playing the same,” said Nelson Cruz, one of several slumping Rangers. “I don’t know what it is. I wish I could tell you. The way we’re playing, it’s different. It’s not us.”
Cruz is 1 for 9. Josh Hamilton and Michael Young are each 1 for 8 with no RBIs.
“I think that more or less it has to do with the pitching we’ve been facing,” Washington said. “We had some opportunities early in the ballgame to put some runs on the board, and we had the right people up there, and he made his pitches.”
At this rate, team president and part-owner Nolan Ryan probably wants to grab a ball himself and get on the mound.
“It’s not going to bother us. We’re still confident we can win this thing,” said Derek Holland, who forced in a run with three straight walks.
Loser C.J. Wilson didn’t pitch badly, allowed two runs and three hits in six-plus innings. He gave up Renteria’s fifth-inning homer, then left the mound accompanied by a trainer with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand following a leadoff walk in the seventh. Juan Uribe added a run-scoring single against reliever Darren Oliver.
“This blister is something he’s been dealing with all year,” Washington said. “He’ll put some glue on it and do whatever he has to do to close it up.”
San Francisco pulled away as Washington again made bullpen moves too late, and the Giants became the first team in World Series history to score seven runs in an inning with two outs and the bases empty.
Four straight two-out walks by Rangers relievers let the game get out of control, and Texas set a record for most runs allowed in a franchise’s first two Series games — five more than Colorado did against Boston in 2007.
After Holland’s bases-loaded walk to Aubrey Huff, Mark Lowe walked Uribe. Renteria, whose 11th-inning single won Game 7 of the 1997 Series for Florida against Cleveland, followed with a two-run single. Pinch-hitter Aaron Rowand hit a two-run triple against Michael Kirkman, and Andres Torres doubled in a run.
Cain allowed all four hits, and has allowed only a single and an unearned run in 21 1-3 innings over three postseason starts. He joined the Giants’ Christy Mathewson (1905) and Carl Hubbell (1933), the Yankees’ Waite Hoyt (1921) and Detroit’s Kenny Rogers (2006) as the only pitchers to allow no earned runs in 20 or more innings in a single postseason.
“Now we’re going in their ballpark,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I’m sure they’re going to have a sense of confidence. We’ve been road warriors, so that’s what it’s going to take right now.”
Ronald Blum/The Associated Press