Game 3 preview: Time to get back to work

Well, we’ve all been reveling in the Giants’ first two victories in the World Series.

I’ve even caught myself allowing thoughts of World Series championships swim around in my head on Friday. But just as those thoughts make a couple of laps, they run head-on into some bad memories. Then thoughts turn to: Is this how the Giants are going to break my heart this time?

So now is the time for the Giants, and all the Giants faithful, to take those first games and set them aside. A new series starts Saturday in Arlington, and they need to find a way to win Saturday. Take nothing for granted. Giants fans know well there are no sure things.

WHO IS COLBY LEWIS?

That’s a question a lot of Giants fans are asking. And it’s a reasonable question.

Even the Yankees, who play in the same league as the Rangers, were not that familiar with Lewis and it hurt them.

Here’s what we know about Colby Lewis.

The reason you don’t know much about Colby Lewis is that prior to 2010, he spent two season pitching in Japan. Lewis came up with the Rangers in 2002, making 26 starts and going 10-9 in 2003. But he missed 2004 after rotator cuff surgery. The Tigers claimed him off waivers after 2004 season. Lewis returned to the majors briefly at the end of 2006. He made 26 appearances for the A’s in 2007 before being claimed off waivers by the Royals, then later released after the 2007 season.

He signed Hiroshima of Japan’s Central League in 2008, where he led the league in strikeouts in 2008 and 2009.

He signed a two-year deal with the Rangers last winter, and went 12-13 with a 3.72 ERA for Texas. He struck out 196 batters in 201 IP.

His season was almost a mirror of Game 2 starter C.J. Wilson. Lewis lost seven straight decisions from last July to early September before winning three of his last four starts in September.

Lewis has been very good in the postseason. He pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Rays, a game Tampa eventually won 6-3 by beating the Texas bullpen (sound familiar?).

In the ALCS vs. the Yankees, he got the win in Game 2, giving up two runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. In Game 6, he was even better, pitching eight innings, allowing one run on three hits.

Lewis has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last eight starts, including three in the postseason. Yankee right-handed hitters struggled against Lewis. The Giants lineup likely will have six RH bats in it.

Lewis lives on the edges of the plate, preferring to pitch away away hitters. The Giants will need to hit to the opposite field or they’ll be popping up or grounding out.

Because he lives on the edges, Lewis can sometimes lose the plate, so being patient and fouling off pitches will be key for the Giants. If they can extend at-bats and innings and get Lewis’ pitch count up — like they did with Cliff Lee — that’s how they’ll succeed. It will also hasten Ron Washington to go to the bullpen. That is the goal.

Also scoring early will be important. The Giants have scored 20 runs in two games, but they haven’t score a run in the first or second innings. Scoring early will put pressure on the Rangers.

WHICH SANCHEZ WILL SHOW?

Of the four Giants pitchers who made 33 starts this season, who had the lowest ERA?

If you said Jonathan Sanchez, you’d be right. His 3.07 ERA topped Cain (3.14), Lincecum (3.43) and Zito (4.15).

Sanchez was 4-1 in September/October regular-season starts. In his lone loss, he gave up one earned run in 5 2/3 innings.

While he led the league in walks allowed, his 6.6 hits per nine innings was also the best in the NL.

In his first two postseason starts, he gave three earned runs in 13 IP, with 18 strikeouts.

We bring up these facts because the memory of his 2+ inning start in Game 6 of the NLCS is still fresh in Giants fans minds. Sanchez has been solid this season, and not the inconsistent pitch we’ve seen so often.

Bruce Bochy called his Game 6 NLCS start as a hiccup. We can only hope so. If Sanchez can return to the form he had in the nine starts before last Saturday’s start in Philly, the Giants should be just fine.

PANDA AS DH

Pablo Sandoval will get the start Saturday as the DH.

Sandoval is one of three Giants hitters who have yet to swing the bat in the Series, along with Mike Fontenot and backup catch Eli Whiteside. Fontenot was announced as a pinch-hitter in Game 2, but was quickly replaced by Aaron Rowand after a pitching change.

The Giants are going with this lineup:

CF Andres Torres
2B Freddy Sanchez
1B Aubrey Huff
C Buster Posey
LF Pat Burrell
RF Cody Ross
3B Juan Uribe
DH Pablo Sandoval
SS Edgar Renteria

That’s 3 lefty bats with switch-hitters Torres and Sandoval and lefty Huff.

Given how Lewis has handled RH batters recently, the Giants could have squeezed in another LH bat by starting Travis Ishikawa at 1B, Huff at DH, Sandoval at 3B and Uribe at SS.

But clearly Bochy likes the defensive alignment of Renteria and Uribe on the left side, and Renteria has been swinging the bat well.

CLIFF LEE IN GAME 4?

If the Giants win Game 3, it would almost guarantee seeing Cliff Lee start Game 4 on Sunday. But if the Rangers win, it leaves room to think.

Tommy Hunter is the scheduled Game 4 starter. He was warming up in the eighth inning as the Rangers ran through their bullpen trying to find someone to get the final out.

That doesn’t mean too much. We saw Madison Bumgarner throw in the pen in Game 2 of the NLCS. He didn’t get in the game, and then still started Game 4.

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