The Texas Rangers came into the World Series flexing their muscles, boasting a lineup that destroyed opposing pitching in their first two playoff series.
In the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas scored 21 runs in five games. They roughed up one of the American League's best pitchers, David Price(notes), for eight runs and 17 hits in two of those contests.
Texas looked like the favorite to win this series and the franchise's first championship with an offense that would surely overpower yet another pitching staff. But the heavy lumber the Rangers carried ran into a San Francisco Giants buzzsaw that turned those big bats into toothpicks.
Against a dominating group of starters and relievers, the Rangers mustered only 12 runs in five games. They were shut out in Game 4, and until Nelson Cruz's(notes) home run in the seventh inning of Game 5, it looked like Texas would post a zero in two straight games.
Until that solo homer, the Giants had handcuffed the Rangers for 18 consecutive scoreless innings — a stretch in which Texas never got a runner past second base.
At the beginning of this series, it appeared as if the Texas lineup might assert itself once again over an ace pitcher. In Game 1, the Rangers smacked Tim Lincecum(notes) for four runs and eight hits. It was his shortest start of the postseason, lasting just 5 2/3 innings.
But in the decisive Game 5, Lincecum rendered that performance a distant memory. He blew away hitter after hitter through the Rangers' batting order, racking up 10 strikeouts while allowing only one run and three hits.
Yet again, the biggest bats that needed to come through for Texas were rendered non-existent. Vladimir Guerrero(notes) went 0-for-4, Ian Kinsler(notes) went 0-for-2 and Michael Young(notes) managed just one leadoff single the entire game.
Lincecum made Hamilton look silly in the fourth inning, getting him to chase a slider low and away for strike three.
And in the ninth against Brian Wilson(notes), Hamilton was caught looking at a 95 m.p.h. fastball right down the middle of the plate. He argued that the pitch was high, but pitch trackers showed it was definitely a strike. It was the second night in a row that Wilson punched Hamilton out with high heat. In Game 4, Hamilton chased a pitch even higher in the strike zone, unable to hold his bat back against a 96 mph fastball.
If Hamilton is the face of these Texas Rangers, then his helpless attempts versus Lincecum and Wilson are the signature images of this World Series. An imposing lineup ended up looking feeble against a fearsome pitching staff and that made all the difference.