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Series foes add fresh chapter to limited history

Series foes add fresh chapter to limited history

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The skull sessions are under way. The World Series opponents now have to study each other. For the Rangers and the Giants, as foreign to each other as is possible in this integrated era of Interleague baseball, the few days before the start of the 106th Fall Classic on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX and Postseason.TV will be filled with meetings, video watching and debriefing by scouts.

These two teams were regular opponents at the outset of Interleague Play, meeting annually from 1997-2001. Since, they have had only two regular-season dates, and play stay-away even during Spring Training. Although Arizona neighbors, their camps 30 miles from each other, they met in only two Cactus League games this spring (the Giants winning both).

The Giants have had the best of the regular-season history between the teams, owning a 15-7 edge that includes three-game sweeps the past three times they've met at AT&T Park: 2000, '06 and '09.

But with the teams having played only six games against each other in the past nine seasons, this sets up as an old-school World Series between opponents with limited first-hand knowledge of each other -- with two notable exceptions.

The Rangers could pick the brain of Jeff Francoeur, who is most familiar with the Giants' pitchers as a former National Leaguer with the Braves and Mets. Unfortunately, all Francoeur knows is how not to hit them: He is 5-for-52 (.096) collectively against starters Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Jonathan Sanchez, and closer Brian Wilson.

Catcher Bengie Molina should be of far more help, having caught the San Francisco staff for 2 1/2 seasons prior to his July 1 trade to Texas.

Of the Giants' pitchers, Cain has had the most overall success against the Rangers. He dates back to those 2006 and '09 meetings, and players on Texas' current roster have a cumulative .109 average against him. The sample size is slim, but Ian Kinsler has the best numbers, with a 2-for-4 mark that includes a home run.

Wilson was also around for both of those Interleague rounds, and the next hit the Rangers get off him will be the first. In picking up a pair of saves against Texas, Wilson held their batters to an 0-for-19 mark; that's not a normal hold, but a chokehold.

Texas' younger and more transient pitching staff has limited experience against the Giants' lineup -- with the exception of postseason ace Cliff Lee, who has often crossed their paths in his travels.

Current San Francisco hitters have held their own against the left-hander, batting a collective .270 in 111 at-bats. NLCS hero Juan Uribe, who was with the White Sox during Lee's Cleveland years, is a .325 hitter against him, with a couple of homers and seven RBIs in 37 at-bats.

Perhaps more relevant, especially with Lee set to start Game 1 for the Rangers on Wednesday in AT&T Park, he has won both of his decisions there, with an ERA of 1.13.

The rest of Texas' rotation will rely on Molina's knowledge of the San Francisco hitters, because they have virtually none. C.J. Wilson is a converted reliever, Colby Lewis returned this season from two years in Japan and Tommy Hunter is a relative novice.

Tom Singer is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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