The situation -- the first World Series game in Arlington -- demanded that the Texas Rangers play much, much better than they had in San Francisco. The 2-0 Series lead taken by the Giants demanded the same thing.
The Rangers delivered in a big way on Saturday night. After being outscored, 20-7, in San Francisco; after playing like somebody else entirely -- somebody less than themselves -- the Rangers returned to their best postseason form. They won Game 3 by a 4-2 score, and they looked like the Texas Rangers in doing so.
The crowd on hand at Rangers Ballpark was a record-setting 52,419, and it was on every single pitch. For the sake of the event, and for the sake of the emotional well-being of the growing Rangers fan base, Texas got the celebration started early.
In the second inning, first baseman Mitch Moreland hit a three-run home homer off Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez. The lefty-lefty matchup didn't suggest this kind of outcome, but Moreland, a rookie, is having a big postseason. His presence in the No. 9 spot in Texas' lineup is a very clear indication of how deep and difficult this offense is.
Another left-handed hitter, center fielder Josh Hamilton, added a solo home run off Sanchez in the fifth. How does Hamilton generate this kind of power display against lefties?
"I black out for a second," Hamilton said, adding laughs to power.
Most of the rest of the heavy lifting for Texas on Saturday night was done by starting pitcher Colby Lewis. By this time, that doesn't register as a shock, either. Lewis produced a terrific performance here; his overall record in the 2010 postseason is 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA. That includes two victories over the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
With a victory in what some considered a must-win situation for the Rangers, Lewis reinforced his status as a legitimate postseason winner, going 7 2/3 innings and giving up two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out six.
"He's just been tremendous," Hamilton said. "He's been just as good as Cliff [Lee] and C.J. [Wilson]. It's pretty awesome to be out there in center and watch him pitch."
|4||Fastball||89 mph||Called strike|
|9||Fastball||89 mph||Home run|
The Rangers' performance, combining plenty of pitching with power, allowed a completely festive air to take over at Rangers Ballpark. Texas trailed the World Series 2-0, and yet, coming home, the club had not lacked confidence.
"We came home and we knew we had a little bit of momentum on our side after the ALCS, playing well here," Lewis said. "So it was just a thing of comfortability, really, coming back home and letting the fans do their work and us doing ours."
And festive was fitting for the historical breakthrough that this World Series represents. What does it mean for the Rangers to finally find themselves in the Fall Classic, bringing World Series baseball to Arlington?
"Well, it means everything to everyone in Texas -- not only this organization, but the fans, even the players, myself, the coaching staff, ownership," Rangers manager Ron Washington said before Game 3. "It means everything. But it doesn't mean everything to the point where we feel any pressure.
"We've been playing baseball, many of us, for a long time. And we just have to go out there and play baseball and give these fans something to make sure that they can hold on. And what that is, we've got to get a win, there's no doubt about it. We've got to get a win. If we get a win, I think everyone will be happy and relax, and we can start playing baseball the way we know we can.
"So it means everything. [The fans] are not coming here tonight to watch us go out there and lose another ballgame, and we certainly didn't show up tonight to do that, either."
Rangers fans rewarded their club for its previous achievements by showing up here in record numbers and probably setting a Metroplex outdoor decibel-level record in the process. The Rangers knew that they were home and felt suitably good about their homecoming.
The Rangers repaid the loyalty of their fans with a good, strong dose of Rangers baseball and, of course, a victory. That, in turn, led to an even happier throng of Rangers fans. What a reciprocal relationship.
"We wanted to get back home," Washington said. "We felt comfortable here. We knew we could finally put a good game together, and we did. You know, it took the whole team to get it done, and they certainly did. But it feels great.
"You know, we have to come back [on Sunday] and do the same thing."
One thing at a time. But on Saturday night, the one thing that had to happen for the good of Rangers baseball happened: The World Series came to Arlington, and the Rangers opened the home portion of their World Series history with a victory.