San Francisco Giants (1-0) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (0-1)
Jonathan Sanchez (0-0, 1.23 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
Time: 8:19, Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 61
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Out of all the pitchers on the Phillies’ NLCS roster, Roy Oswalt has thrown the second-most postseason innings, behind only Cole Hamels. With that said, it’s been a while since The Speedwagon’s postseason performance has been anything more than mediocre–about five years, to be exact. His last postseason quality start was in Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS, when he allowed only four baserunners in seven innings en route to a 5-1 Astros win. Is it worth panicking over two bad starts five years apart? Probably not, but on the heels of last night’s 4-3 loss, tonight’s Game 2 takes on added importance.
There were circumstances under which a Game 1 loss would have been palatable. For instance, if Tim Lincecum had continued his NLDS form and outdueled Roy Halladay 1-0 or 2-1. But Lincecum, while not being particularly sharp, managed to hold the Phillies to three runs, and despite numerous opportunities against both Lincecum and the Giants bullpen, the Phillies couldn’t scratch out a tying run. Halladay, for his part, found the strike zone pulled out from under him in a key moment and gave up two cheap home runs to Cody Ross, of all people. It’s not so much that the Phillies lost last night–it’s that they lost a game that was eminently winnable at all stages.
In order to reverse the plot, Oswalt will have to hold his own against 27-year-old lefty Jonathan Sanchez. The Phillies, as I’m sure you’ve heard, have a tough time as a team hitting power lefties in general, and Sanchez in particular. Sanchez is coming off a no-decision in his playoff debut, when he held the Braves to one earned run, two hits, and a walk against 11 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. For his career, he’s 3-1 with a 2.86 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in nine appearances, five of them starts, against the Phillies. In order to keep Sanchez from blowing through both of his left-handed power bats in order, Charlie Manuel has flipped Chase Utley and Placido Polanco in the batting order. Utley, for his career, has exactly the same OPS against left-handed pitching and right-handed pitching, while Jimmy Rollins (1-for-15 in the postseason) and Raul Ibanez (90 points lower OPS against LHP than RHP for his career) remain unchanged.
It’s not panic time yet. The Giants, remember, between Brooks Conrad’s Flying Circus in the NLDS and the Phillies’ 14 runners left on last night, have gotten a ton of breaks to win five one-run games in a row. The Phillies, for their part, have managed only to score only 11 earned runs in four playoff games. All that could change in a heartbeat. But in the event that doesn’t happen, here’s a stat for you. Since the advent of the 7-game LCS in 1985, only twice has a team come back from 2-0 down to win: the 2004 Red Sox and the 1985 Cardinals. No team has ever lost the first two games of a best-of-7 LCS at home and gone on to overturn the deficit.
There was a PSA that ran on the old UPN network in the late 1990s that said “Education is Paramount.” That’s not entirely accurate. Winning this game is paramount.
Game 2 Lineup: Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Polanco 3B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Rollins SS, Ibanez LF, Ruiz C, Oswalt P
Your gameday beer: Yuengling Black and Tan
We might need some comfort tonight, so tonight we get a comfort beer: Yuengling Black and Tan. Not only does it stick to your ribs and taste wonderful, but it’s a hometown beer as well. As the weather gets colder, our beers get darker and thicker, and while The Daily Beast rates this one the 22nd-most-fattening beer offered by major American breweries, I’d drink a bottle right now, then think about buying new pants later.
Also, the Giants’ home uniforms are black and tan. So we’ve got that going for us.-by Michael