Commentary

Fifth inning changed everything

The Giants took control from the Rangers thanks to one big inning in Game 1

Originally Published: October 23, 2010
By Carson Cistulli | FanGraphs
Entering the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday night, Game 1 of the World Series between Texas and San Francisco was roughly a 50-50 proposition.

By the end of the inning, the game was basically over.

After a 1-2-3 top of the fifth for Tim Lincecum and the Giants, San Francisco had a 56.4 percent chance of winning, per FanGraphs' win expectancy metric. Despite some occasional -- and uncharacteristic -- lapses from both Lincecum and Rangers starter Cliff Lee, the game, for all intents and purposes, appeared to have settled into the sort of pitchers' duel one might have expected.

After inducing a groundout from Josh Hamilton to end the Rangers' side of the fifth, Lincecum and Lee had combined to retire seven straight and 11 of 12. The bottom of the inning didn't begin any differently. Lincecum, leading off the inning, grounded to shortstop, making the game even closer -- just 53.5 percent in San Francisco's favor.