With their backs to the wall, the Phillies came out on Thursday night in need of a win — what they got might not only have been a game, but a series as well.
Down three games to one, the Phillies had to win, and win, and win again. Last night they took care of step one — they have two more steps to complete.
With both Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels set to take the mound in game 6 and 7, the Phils have a good chance to go back to the World Series for the third-straight season.
The Giants, who also have pitching, are set with Matt Cain, who was solid for the Giants already in this series, and Jonathan Sanchez, who could be lethal to lefties.
With so many good starters in this series, it’s the offense which needs to get going in a big way. Let’s take a look at some offensive numbers, as we get set for Saturday’s game 6 in Philadelphia:
|2010 LCS Philadelphia Phillies Hitting|
|2010 LCS San Francisco Giants Hitting|
It was a tough loss yesterday afternoon for the Phillies. They struggled against Matt Cain, and now, they find themselves down two games to one. With time running out, they will need a good performance tonight from starter Joe Blanton — if not, the series could be over before you know it!
Blanton, a native of Kentucky, will need to keep the San Francisco bats quiet — especially Cody Ross, who has been on-fire this postseason. While Blanton has had his struggles this season, he has had some success against the Giants in the past.
In his last outing against San Francisco, Blanton tossed 6.1 solid innings — allowing just two runs on eight hits in an 8-2 Phils win. That game, which took place on August 18, did not include the hot-hitting Cody Ross, however, which could make a difference. Ross was still a member of the Florida Marlins at that point and has single-handedly changed the San Francisco offense.
Blanton, 29, has a 2-3 record with a 4.72 ERA in seven starts against the Giants in his career. The 6’3″ righty will have to be careful of two other hitters in the lineup as well. Both Andres Torres and Pat Burrell each went yard against him in that game, and both could pose a serious threat again. It will be interesting to see who Giants manager Bruce Bochy will go with tonight. Does he bring Aaron Rowand back a night after getting a big hit? Or will he go with Torres tonight, who has a homer off of Blanton?
Tonight’s game will prove to be an important one for the Phils, and it will all fall on Blanton in the end. If he is able to keep his team in the game, the Phils may have a chance at tying the series. The offense will need to get it going early, however, and will need to do so against the young Madison Bumgarner.
Bumgarner, who is coming off a solid start his last time out (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 5 K), will need to do what Matt Cain did before him. The 21-year-old southpaw posted a 7-6 mark with a 3.00 ERA this season, but has never faced the Phillies.
Can Bumgarner keep Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, and Jimmy Rollins silent tonight? Can Raul Ibanez break-out of his 0-for-15 funk?
There seem to be a lot of question marks right now for the Phillies. The key in my mind, will be Blanton. He has the chance to put an end to all of the question marks tonight. Can he do it? We’ll see tonight!
Two games in the books for the 2010 NLCS and so far, the world has seen some good baseball being played. The Giants did all they could to go to San Francisco with a split.
After a big performance from Cody Ross in game one, the Giants took a 1-0 lead on the defending National League champs. More importantly, it was their ace Tim Lincecum, who beat the Phillies ace Roy Halladay.
While game one may not have lived up to the expectations, game two on Sunday did. Roy Oswalt took over on the mound for Philadelphia and dazzled the Giants. The Kosciusko, MS native tossed eight solid innings, allowing just one run on three hits, while fanning nine. His solid effort and base-running, kept the Phillies from going to San Francisco down 0-2.
Perhaps the biggest thing to take away from the series so far, however, is the fact that it looks like Jimmy Rollins is back. Rollins, who let’s be honest, has had his struggles, came up huge in last night’s Phillies 6-1 win over the Giants. A former Reading Phillies shortstop, Rollins went 2-3 with four RBIs, and led the Phillies to the much-needed victory.
Rollins, who won the 2007 NL MVP, has had his share of injuries and struggles since. His offensive numbers have dropped, his games played have dropped, and Rollins, himself, has been dropped from the leadoff spot.
Coming into Sunday’s game, Rollins was hitting just .067 (1-15) in the postseason, but he was still out there giving his all when game two started. Batting sixth behind sluggers Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth, Rollins ignited the Phillies offense, which is hitting just .179 with runners in scoring position. The California native, who has been used to igniting the offense from the top of the lineup, did it from lower in the lineup, and came up as the hero in the end.
“Sometimes you just put a good swing on the ball, find some gap and
everything looks like it’s fantastic,” Rollins said. “Hopefully I can
take what I did today and just keep it going.”
If Rollins, who hit .243 in 350 at-bats this season, can keep hitting in the postseason, the Phillies may have found their secret weapon. Once relied upon as the table-setter of the offense, Rollins has not been that force for awhile now. If the Phillies can get the Rollins of old back into the lineup on a daily basis, the edge will once again be given to Philadelphia.
One more thing — Phillies manager Charlie Manuel deserves a lot of credit. Never once did Manuel decide to pull Rollins in the playoffs. He stuck with his former MVP, and in the end, it paid dividends. Much like he stuck with Brad Lidge in the bad times, he has done the same with Rollins.
The Phillies and Giants will face each other on Saturday in game one of the NLCS. Roy Halladay will face Tim Lincecum in perhaps one of the finest pitching matchups the playoffs have ever seen.
As we move forward, and get ready for NLCS baseball, I thought it would be good to take a look at some of the Phillies top NLCS performers. Oh, and by the way, can we play some baseball already! It’s unbelievable that the Phils have not played since Sunday, what a long week!
The Pitchers (NLCS)
Joe Blanton — 0-0, 4.15 ERA — 3 G, 2 GS (13 IP, 13 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 8 BB, 8 SO)
Cole Hamels — 3-0, 3.80 ERA — 4 G, 4 GS (23.2 IP, 24 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 7 BB, 20 SO)
Brad Lidge — 2-1, 1.80 ERA — 15 G (20 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 7 BB, 30 SO)
Ryan Madson — 1-0, 2.16 ERA — 8 G (8.1 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 SO)
Roy Oswalt — 2-0, 3.27 ERA — 4 G, 3 GS (22 IP, 19 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 8 BB, 14 SO)
The Hitters (NLCS)
Greg Dobbs — .429-0-0 — (5 G, 3 H, 2B, BB)
Ryan Howard — .314-1-8 — (10 G, 11 H, 9 R, 2 2B, 3B, 6 BB)
Placido Polanco — .455-0-2 — (8 G, 10 H, 2 R, 2B, 4 BB
Carlos Ruiz — .345-1-5 — (10 G, 10, 7 R, 2 2B, 6 BB, SB)
Chase Utley — .278-1-4 — (10 G, 10 H, 7 R, 2 2B, 10 BB)
Shane Victorino — .297-3-12 — (10 G, 11 H, 6 R, 2B, 2 3B, 4 BB, SB)
Jayson Werth — .205-3-6 — (10G, 8 H, 7 R, 2B, 3 BB)