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!
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)