ARLINGTON -- This was a bitterly disappointing outcome for the Texas Rangers. But it was also a mark of how far they had come, and how fast.
And while the 2010 World Series did not end happily for the Rangers, it is much more likely to be a beginning than an end. With a core of young talent -- and more talent on the way from a strong farm system -- the Rangers should eventually make appearing in the World Series more than just an isolated occurrence.
The Rangers lost the 2010 World Series in five games to the San Francisco Giants, dropping Game 5 by a 3-1 score on Monday night. Game 5 was classic postseason baseball. Here were two of the best pitchers in the game, Tim Lincecum for the Giants and Cliff Lee for the Rangers, controlling the game. The only question from front to back was which one would crack first.
Six innings passed without incident, which in this case meant without anything remotely resembling a run-scoring situation. Two Giants singles and a sacrifice bunt to open the seventh looked like real trouble, but Lee got what he absolutely needed -- a strikeout for the second out.
But then San Francisco shortstop Edgar Renteria did one thing a scoreless contest never projects; he hit a three-run homer. But then Renteria has been a postseason hero dating all the way back to 1997, when he drove in the winning run in Game 7 for the Florida Marlins against the Cleveland Indians.
The Rangers broke through against Lincecum on Monday with a solo homer by Nelson Cruz in the seventh, but that was the extent of their scoring. The capacity crowd of 52,045 at Rangers Ballpark, viewing the first World Series in Arlington, then got to see a first that it definitely didn't want to see -- a Giants celebration on Texas turf.
It was a difficult time for perspective, but the accomplishments of this team were indisputable. A first postseason series victory. Then another series victory -- this one over the Yankees in the American League Championship Series -- a first AL pennant and a first World Series appearance for the Texas franchise.
After getting four hits with runners in scoring position in Game 1 of the Fall Classic, the Rangers combined to collect one hit in such situations through the rest of the Series.
"It's tough right now, but as the offseason goes on, we're going to be proud of what we accomplished," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We're better than the Twins, the Yankees -- anyone in the American League, we're better. We were the American League champions; that's something to be extremely proud of. We were one of only two teams to be playing on Nov. 1.
"We didn't accomplish what we wanted to accomplish, but we got to where we wanted to get to."
To the question of whether this was more a beginning than an end for this club, Kinsler replied:
"Absolutely. We made a lot of history with this club -- we set the bar higher. A lot of people know who the Rangers are now. We didn't have a great showing in the World Series -- we didn't have the showing that we wanted -- but throughout the playoffs, we played very good baseball, and we're proud of that."
Lee said of the World Series loss: "Nobody is more disappointed than I am."
No doubt. Lee was 7-0 in the postseason before this Series, but here he was 0-2. His Game 1 showing was atypically bad, but in Game 5, he was essentially beaten by one pitch and his entire club was beaten by one pitcher.
But that was the theme of this Series -- the Rangers being limited to a total of one run in three of their defeats. They were stopped by Matt Cain in Game 2, Madison Bumgarner in Game 4 and here in the finale by Lincecum.
The Rangers, with their diverse and aggressive attack, combining both power and speed, hit only .190 in the World Series. They had pounded on the Yankees for 38 runs in the ALCS, but they were fully contained here.
The cliché about great pitching beating great hitting should be amended. Great pitching reduces great hitting. Great pitching nullifies great hitting. More than anything, great pitching turns great hitting into something much less, as in this case, very little hitting at all.
Lee suggested that his view of the World Series defeat was that "we're going to use this as motivation next year."
He was not solicited into that comment, and it seemed important, given that he will be the single most sought-after free agent on the market this offseason. He went on to reiterate his desire to remain with the Rangers, adding:
"I expect this team to do great things next year."
That is a reasonable expectation. For the moment, the Rangers are stuck with the bitter taste of a World Series defeat. But they also know that they have made unprecedented achievements for this franchise and that those achievements don't have to stop here.
"It stings right now," third baseman Michael Young said. "But that will be fuel for the fire next Spring Training. I'm proud of my teammates and proud of what this group accomplished."
Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.