SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants set an impressive stage for Wednesday's World Series opener at a buzzing AT&T Park, trotting out five Hall of Fame players for first-pitch duties and legendary Tony Bennett to sing.
And then they really put on a show, scoring what was essentially a doubleheader victory in the Series opener, defeating the Rangers 11-7 and deflating the legend of Cliff Lee.
Winning the opener of the best-of-seven series was important enough, as the team that wins the first game has gone on to the championship 11 of the past 13 times and 61 percent overall.
But more significant may have been the beating — seven runs (six earned) in less than five innings — they put on Lee, whose perfect postseason record had created something of a sense of invincibility for the Rangers when he was on the mound.
Lee hadn't allowed a run since the Rays' Ben Zobrist singled in Sean Rodriguez early in Game 5 of the AL division series, a streak of 16 scoreless innings. He hadn't allowed two runs in an inning since Sept. 23 at Oakland, a span of five starts. He hadn't allowed six earned runs in a game since Aug. 21 at Baltimore, which was nine starts ago.
And he hadn't lost a postseason game since, well, ever, having entered the game 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in eight career starts.
The Rangers took an early 2-0 lead, but the Giants tied it in the third then busted it open with six-run, 11-batter fifth, chasing Lee along the way.
Back-to-back one-out doubles by Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez, his third of the night, got them started, and they did the rest of the work two outs. Former Ray Pat Burrell, capping his post-release resurgence by hitting cleanup in the Series, drew a walk, then Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff, another ex-Ray, delivered two-strike RBI singles to make it 5-2 and end Lee's night.
Then Juan Uribe, who homered in the pennant-clinching win at Philadelphia, made it the Giants' night, greeting reliever Darren O'Day with a three-run homer.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy figured his crew of veteran hitters were eager for the challenge of facing Lee.
"When you have a guy that's pitching as well as he is, you get all the information you can, and sure, you're watching video, but still, when a pitcher has the kind of stuff that he has and he's locating his four pitches, it's a tough match," Bochy said Tuesday.
"It's all about competing. You know your hitters look forward to the challenge of facing one of the hottest pitchers ever in postseason. That's how well he's throwing the ball. And coming into this, we've been facing some great pitchers, so these guys will be up there competing."
By the end of the night, the Giants had 11 runs on 14 hits — four by Sanchez, including his three doubles (one off the record), and three by Huff — against five Rangers pitchers.
Tim Lincecum, who despite having the last two NL Cy Young Awards was the other starter in this game, turned out to be the better pitcher, working into the sixth and allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks.
The Giants had come to expect as much, as Lincecum was 38-0 when the Giants scored four runs for him and 45-3 in the 73 games when they tallied at least three.
AT&T Park was electric in orange and black, as was much of the city, as the Giants, unexpectedly, were hosting the Series for the first time since 2002 and making their fourth bid for a championship since moving west in 1958.
And the Giants turned it into quite a show, trotting out Hall of Famers Orlando Cepeda, Monte Irvin, Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal and Willie McCovey — Willie Mays was sick — to handle first-pitch duties and Bennett to sing.
The Giants actually got off to a rough start as the Rangers took a 2-0 lead.
Lincecum started the game allowing a single and a walk, and a one-out ground ball off his leg led to the first Texas run. He could have made it worse with a curious-at-best decision after fielding Nelson Cruz's comebacker by running Michael Young back to third without a throw, which loaded the bases. But Ian Kinsler grounded into a double play.
A Lee double followed by a poor throw to the plate from centerfielder Torres with plodding-at-best catcher Bengie Molina running made it 2-0.
Marc Topkin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.