Burrell, Giants struggle in loss

The Rangers' Mitch Moreland gets a high five from teammate Michael Young after hitting a three-run homer in the second.
The Rangers' Mitch Moreland gets a high five from teammate Michael Young after hitting a three-run homer in the second.

The former Phillies slugger struck out four times in Game 3. San Francisco managed just two runs off Texas pitching.

Posted: October 31, 2010

ARLINGTON, Texas - Pat Burrell walked into the visitors' clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark holding a half-full Bud Light bottle. He saw the mass of reporters and cameras circled around his locker and smiled.

"Are you looking for me?" he asked.

Burrell put the beer down on a nearby table, stood in the middle of the room, and answered questions about his four-strikeout game as the symbolic offender on a night the San Francisco Giants' offense went back to simply being normal in a 4-2 loss Saturday to the Texas Rangers in Game 3 of the World Series.

"It's a bad time to struggle," Burrell said. "There's no way around it."

San Francisco had an opportunity to seize absolute control of this series with a victory. Instead, Jonathan Sanchez struggled again on the mound, and an offense that scored 20 runs in the Series' first two games was held to two runs, coming on solo home runs.

So now the Rangers have life, still trailing, by two games to one, but with the next two games in Texas.

"You know," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, "it's nice to be in our position right now, but we have a lot of work ahead of us. We're playing a very good club, and we didn't think this would be easy."

It has been mostly difficult for Burrell, the former Phillie. Of the 53 pitches he's seen in three World Series games, he has put just one in play - a groundout to third base in the sixth inning of Game 2.

When Bochy racks his brain for possible Game 4 lineup combinations, he may not include Burrell. With the four strikeouts Saturday, he has 19 whiffs in 38 postseason at-bats.

Bochy suggested that Burrell's timing was off.

"Yeah, I'd say so," Burrell said, laughing.

At the highest stage in 2008, when Burrell's Phillies faced Tampa Bay in the World Series, he had just one hit in 19 at-bats, with five strikeouts. (That one hit, a double to lead off the seventh inning of Game 5, was huge.)

Burrell said these struggles were worse.

"It was different," Burrell said of 2008. "If I had the answer, I wouldn't go through it. These things happen. I've been through it before."

The Rangers had not, playing their first World Series in front of the largest crowd this 16-year-old ballpark has ever squeezed inside.

They took an early and insurmountable lead on the strength of a three-run home run by rookie first baseman Mitch Moreland.

Sanchez, who was wildly inconsistent against the Phillies in the National League Championship Series, has a 5.68 ERA in his last three postseason starts. San Francisco pitching coach Dave Righetti said after the game he was concerned about the decrease in Sanchez's velocity and said the staff would have to consider other options for a possible Game 7 starter.

In the second inning, Moreland provided the at-bat that could be looked back on as a turning point in the series. Sanchez fell behind, 2-0, but evened the count with two fastballs. Moreland drilled one of them a few feet to the right of the foul pole in right field.

Sanchez countered with four off-speed pitches, and Moreland fouled all four off, forcing the pitcher to acquiesce. He threw Moreland an 89-m.p.h. fastball low and over the plate that Moreland crushed into the right-field stands for a three-run home run.

"I got the fastball," Moreland said. "It was down and in, and I was able to put a good swing on it."

San Francisco still had a chance when the Rangers' rookie closer, Neftali Feliz, entered to protect a two-run lead in the ninth. But Burrell led off and struck out on four pitches.

He sulked and slowly walked to the Giants' dugout. After the game, Burrell was quick to appear in the clubhouse.

"You have to be accountable for what you do," he said.

For about 10 minutes, Burrell answered questions. When he finished, he grabbed his beer, walked out of the room, and went straight to the players' lounge, the end of a lost night for the outfielder and his teammates deep in the heart of Texas.


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb

at 215-854-2928 or mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @magelb.


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