SAN FRANCISCO - The San Francisco Giants turned the World Series opener into an extra long round of batting practice - against Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers.
Freddy Sanchez sprayed balls down the lines. Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff hit line drives up the middle. Juan Uribe launched a shot far, far over the wall.
So much for the unbeatable Mr. Lee.
The Giants battered him and the bullpen, with Sanchez hitting three doubles and keying a six-run burst in an 11-7 romp Wednesday night that looked even more lopsided.
What shaped up as a pitchers' duel between Tim Lincecum and Lee quickly deteriorated into a rout. By the end, the Rangers played like the World Series rookies they are - they made four errors, Ian Kinsler took a mistaken turn around first base and manager Ron Washington may have waited too late to pull his ace.
Former Giants slugger Barry Bonds had plenty to cheer for from his seat next to the San Francisco dugout, especially when a tie game suddenly became an 8-2 thumping in the fifth inning. Rangers president and part-owner Nolan Ryan sat there glumly in a suit and tie, his prized pitcher a wreck.
Added up, the Giants improved to 10-0 against Texas at AT&T Park. Showers are in the forecast for Game 2 Thursday night when Matt Cain and his 0.00 ERA in two playoff start takes on C.J. Wilson and the Rangers.
The Rangers did late damage, scoring three times in the ninth. Nelson Cruz hit a two-out, two-run double off Brian Wilson before the Fear the Beard closer finished it off.
ERIC GAY / AP Enlarge
Sanchez finished with four of the Giants' 14 hits, which included six doubles. Right after Lee walked off the mound in the fifth, Uribe greeted sidearming reliever Darren O'Day with a three-run jolt that broke it open.
San Francisco had gotten through the NL playoffs because of their dominant pitching, plus an ability to win one-run decisions. None of that came into play on this beautiful night for baseball.
Lincecum struggled at the beginning, making a strange mental error, but settled down as the game progressed. The shaggy-haired ace walked off to a standing ovation in the sixth, his glove in his right hand and his head down.
The Rangers tagged him for eight hits, two of them shots off his left leg.
What happened to Lee was simply remarkable.
He came into the game with a 7-0 record in postseason play, one win shy of matching the record set by Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez for the best start in these big games.
But the lefty who loves to stick to his routine - and his messy hat - was all over the place on eight days' rest. He couldn't control his curve and when he did throw it over the plate, it was flat.
With the score 2-all, Andres Torres hit a one-out double in the Giants fifth. Sanchez, a former NL batting champion, followed with a sharp double and Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux was already on the way to the mound as the Rangers got the ball back to Lee.
There was no break for Lee, however. NL championship series MVP Ross, who hit his first major league homer off Lee back in 2003, lined an RBI single up the middle on the lefty's 100th pitch. That hit prompted Lee to slam his pitching hand into his glove, and Huff's RBI single to center finished him.
Uribe capped the big inning by connecting on the third pitch from O'Day. The homer was accompanied by sights and sounds that make AT&T Park unique - burst from a fog horn and blasts from a water cannon.
The last time the Giants had scored six runs in an inning during the postseason was in the 1937 World Series.
The Giants have not won the World Series since moving West from New York. Texas made its first Series appearance in the franchise's 50th season.
This has been the Year of the Pitcher, especially in the postseason. Yet Lincecum and Lee hardly looked like Cy Young winners in the early innings. Instead of expert Cys, there were exasperated sighs on both sides.
Neither team looked especially sharp at the start, in fact, mixing physical and mental mistakes. Big-game jitters? The twilight start? Whatever, when Tony Bennett sang his famed "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" on the field after the first inning, it was easy to wonder where the Giants and Rangers had left their gloves and minds.37.77713 -122.4196
The San Francisco Giants turned the World Series opener into an extra long round of batting practice - against Cliff Lee and the Texas Rangers. Freddy Sanchez sprayed balls down the lines. Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff hit line drives up the middle. Juan Uribe launched a shot far, far over the wall. So much for the unbeatable Mr. Lee.