—Citizens Bank Park
If you said you weren’t at least slightly nervous before the Phillies and Giants took the field for Game 2 of the NLCS, you’re a liar. You’re a liar because the Phillies had seldom seen themselves trailing in a series. You’re a liar because you weren’t sure which team would show up. You’re a liar because you, as a fan, are unfamiliar with watching this team lose on their home turf.
Even though Cody Ross abruptly ended a no-hit bid once again, Roy Oswalt, along with Jimmy Rollins, was able to soothe that lingering anxiety by pitching eight fantastic innings in the Phillies 6-1 win. Oswalt was a completely different pitcher than in Game 2 of the NLDS against Cincinnati and it showed with his fastball. Against the Reds, it lacked life and he was smacked around. Tonight, it had pop and it helped him to hold the Giants without a hit into the fifth inning.
Rollins had been MIA for a while now, beginning the series just 1-for-15 before finally making his presence felt. “Rollins” and “presence felt” haven’t joined forces in quite sometime, but in the seventh, they were a match made in heaven.
That huge seventh was put in motion because of the bat of Jimmy Rollins. He didn’t take the swing, however, Roy Oswalt used Rollins’ bat to single to left-center field to begin the inning. Oswalt said he had tried it in BP two days ago and asked J-Roll for help. It worked.
“He (Oswalt) used my bat tonight, and that gave me a lot of confidence tonight actually…See the bat still had hits in it,” Rollins said. “It’s just the person using it.”
Following Oswalt’s leadoff single, Shane Victorino sacrificed him to second base, as Manuel went to the small ball, something seldom seen. Chase Utley was intentionally walked before Placido Polanco singled to center field, setting up a play at the plate that should never have been.
Running on contact from second, Oswalt turned third and blew through Sam Perlozzo’s stop sign, but slide just under the tag of Buster Posey to give the Phils an extra run. “I read it pretty well off the bat,” said the ever-so-speedy starting pitcher. “But as soon as he hit it, I knew it was over the infield. When I got halfway, I saw the stop sign, I said ‘it’s too late now, no turning back.’”
The insurance run gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead, which was added to shortly thereafter. Utley and Polacno would advance on a double-steal and Jayson Werth would reach on an intentional walk. With the bases clogged with Phillies, Jimmy Rollins did his best impression of the 2009 NLCS against the Dodgers by depositing a ball off the wall in right-center field to clear ‘em. It was shades of the Jon Broxton game all over again, and with one swing of the stick, J-Roll mave have gotten his groove back.
The bases-clearing double made it 6-1 and put the Giants away for good.
In the eighth inning, Oswalt believed he had been pulled by Charlie Manuel with two on and two out, but the skipper stuck with the “Other Roy.” “Well, I had my back turned. I saw Jimmy walking toward me. I thought Charlie was coming, so I thought he had already motioned for the bullpen, but I didn’t know for sure.”
Good thing he didn’t, because Oswalt was able to send Aubrey Huff to the dugout after grounding out to Chase Utley to end the threat. Oswalt’s poise throughout the night allowed Manuel to stay with the ace. “He asked me what I felt like,” said Oswalt. “I knew I had a few left. I honestly felt like I could get through one more.”
The only blemish for Oswalt was another monster home run by Ross, his third jack in two days. That home run to left field ended Oswalt’s attempt at a no-hitter with one out in the fifth, but it did little to shake his confidence, or Manuel’s.
Offensively, the team did a good job of staying patient with Jonathan Sanchez, pushing his pitch count to 35 after the first inning. Sanchez struggled with the “effectively wild” mantra all night, walking three while striking out seven. He was able to minimize the damage, getting through six innings with five hits and three runs – two of which were earned. The bullpen wasn’t as lucky.
No need to be nervous anymore. The Phillies and Giants head to San Francisco tied at one apiece, which certainly beats a 0-2 hole to climb out of.