ARLINGTON, Texas - A half-hour after Jeff Francoeur hit an easy fly ball to end Game 2, a most curious sight began to unfold in front of the San Francisco dugout.
General manager Brian Sabean and maybe 100 members of the Giants staff gathered on the grass Thursday night at AT&T Park, posing for a group picture around a huge trophy.
Moments later, the party picked up. Family members joined in. Adults ran the bases, a toddler made a headfirst dive toward home plate. Hugs and high-fives for all. Hundreds of fans cheered from the box seats, horns honked outside the ballpark.
Sure looked like the Giants had just won the World Series.
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They will, too, unless the Texas Rangers can reverse their fortunes at home. Down 2-0, the hitters are slumping, the bullpen is a wreck and the manager is being criticized. A team that did so well in the American League playoffs got battered 11-7 in the opener, then embarrassed 9-0.
“What you do is you just try to analyze what went wrong and just try to correct it,” Texas manager Ron Washington said.
“Now that we’re home, we feel comfortable back in this place. Not taking anything away from the Giants, they beat us soundly. We’ve just got to come back here, get focused and win a game. We win a game, everything will be fine.”
Colby Lewis is set to start Game 3 against Giants lefty Jonathan Sanchez. It will be the first Series game in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Signs around Rangers Ballpark proclaimed, “It’s Time!” Francoeur and his teammates hope so.
“I think it’s important for us to come out, play well early, get guys on and put pressure on them. Make them feel uncomfortable,” Francoeur said. “They did a good job of making us seem uncomfortable in their park. Hopefully we can turn around and do the same to them.”
Lewis, who closed out the Yankees in the AL Championship Series, will try to stop San Francisco’s scoring spree. Texas has been tagged for 20 runs, the most allowed in a franchise’s first two World Series games, according to STATS LLC. Colorado set the previous record of 15 runs in 2007.
“If you try to get too amped or too overly confident, I think you get yourself in trouble,” Lewis said.
Vladimir Guerrero will rejoin the Texas lineup as the designated hitter. He drove in the first run of this World Series with a single off Tim Lincecum’s leg, but also made two errors in right field and sat out Game 2.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Pablo Sandoval will be his DH.
“We get to get all of our weapons in that lineup,” Washington said. “It’s just comfortable to be back home in front of our fans. We can draw energy from them, and that’s what we need.”
They certainly need some sort of boost.
“We’re not playing the same. I don’t know what it is,” Texas slugger Nelson Cruz said. “I wish I could tell you. The way we’re playing, it’s different. It’s not us.”
Neither is San Francisco, apparently. The week began with many fans wondering whether the Giants could hit enough to win — so far, they’ve become the first NL team to score at least nine runs in back-to-back World Series games.
Bochy and the Giants were merely going about their business inside the clubhouse while the postgame festivities took place on the field at AT&T Park, so nobody could accuse them of celebrating too early.
“There’s baseball left,” Bochy said. “Two wins doesn’t get you anything.”
Outside, members of the Giants organization whooped it up. They stood around the NL championship trophy — the official picture might’ve been a matter of logistics since there’s no guarantee the Series will return to San Francisco.
“See you next year,” some giddy fans told ushers on their way out of the stadium. About 400 Giants employees and guests were set to come to Texas.
“If anything to see how these fans have come out and brought the enthusiasm, energy, it’s been a lot of fun here playing down the stretch,” Bochy said after the win.
Texas was one of baseball’s best home teams, the Giants were among the top road clubs. The Rangers also had been doing well on the road — 5-1 in the AL playoffs — before San Francisco stopped them.
“Obviously they’re more comfortable where they play. That’s their home ballpark. They’re used to having the DH,” Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez said.