x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

The Lone Star state is lonely for champions

Teams from the state of Texas have never won a World Series game and it may be many more years unless the Rangers break that streak.

Teams from the state of Texas have never won a World Series game. Unless the Rangers break that streak tonight or tomorrow, it may be years before a team from the Lone Star State team gets another chance to end that siege of futility.

The Houston Astros were swept out of the 2005 World Series in four games by the Chicago White Sox, and the Rangers find themselves in a 2-0 hole against the San Francisco Giants after absorbing a 9-0 thrashing on Thursday night.

"I expected more out of us," said Josh Hamilton, the Rangers outfielder. "The Giants are hitting on all cylinders right now. We obviously aren't."

The Rangers tonight play the first World Series home game in the history of the 50-year-old franchise. A victory in their debut would be particularly timely.

"We need to go home and get a win. It's as simple as that," said Ron Washington, the Rangers manager.

"We're certainly confident when we get back to Texas we can turn this thing around. Just as [the Giants] won two games in San Francisco we can get back to Texas and do the same thing. We expect to do that."

The Rangers were favoured to win in their first World Series appearance, back before the Giants scored 20 runs against them in two games.

The biggest Texas disappointment so far: the ineffective hitting in the middle of their usually potent line-up, as demonstrated during the Thursday game, when they were neutralized by the Giants right-hander Matt Cain.

Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz have three hits in a collective 25 at-bats, and the Rangers are batting only .227 as a team. They have scored seven runs, or as many as the Giants amassed in one inning on Thursday night.

The Rangers can hope for aid in the form of Vladimir Guerrero, their designated hitter, who returns to the line-up tonight as the series shifts to an American League city.

Guerrero, who is 35 and has bad knees, has become a liability in the field. He made two errors in the first game in San Francisco and was benched for the second game, giving way to the light-hitting David Murphy.

Despite his gaffes with the glove in Game 1, Guerrero at least contributed with the bat, driving in a pair of runs.

Washington said Guerrero would be in the outfield again if the series returns to California for what could be the sixth and seventh games of the series.

That seems like a big if right now.

The Rangers managed only four hits and were hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position on Thursday. Even when Young and Hamilton had consecutive singles in the sixth inning, the Rangers could not score. With Young at third and Hamilton on second after their hits and a wild pitch by Cain, Cruz fouled out to the first baseman. Ian Kinsler, who missed a home run by inches earlier, flied out to end the inning and slammed his helmet in frustration.

"The way we're playing, it's just not us," Cruz said.

Hamilton, Major League Baseball's leading hitter in the regular season at .359, has one hit in eight at-bats and has not driven in a run in the World Series, and Young's statistics are identical. Cruz has one hit in nine at-bats with two runs batted in but three strikeouts.

The Rangers, who have never won in 11 games at AT&T Park, have to take at least two of three at home to force the series back to San Francisco.

"Honestly, now more than ever, just relax," Hamilton said when asked what the Rangers have to do. "Everybody says the pressure's on us. You can't feel that way. We've got to go have fun."

* Associated Press