This morning, a twitter follower of mine sent me a seemingly innocuous tweet: “why can’t the Phillies be like the Giants?” Seems like a simple question, right?
Three things get a team through the postseason: luck, timely hitting/pitching, and getting hot at the right time. Seems like a simple equation for winning, right?
The San Francisco Giants are putting all three of those important ingredients into the stew at the same time and getting great results. As we’ve come to find out, it’s not always the most talented team that wins, but the team that can best figure out how to get a couple of large hits and big innings from pitchers, stay rolling, and get some luck to go your way.
In no way am I trying to downplay how well the Giants have played. There’s no doubt they have a strong level of talent all over the field and in the rotation. But, if you’re asking can the Phillies be like the Giants, it’s based on getting lucky.
The Phillies had a shot at Ryan Vogelsong, an un-vogel-sung hero the last year-plus for San Fran, in spring training last year. Marco Scutaro, a 36-year-old journeyman playing for his sixth team in 11 seasons, is getting big hits all over the place – and that’s after it looked like Matt Holliday ended his playoffs with a wicked slide into second base in the NLCS. Pablo Sandoval, who hit 12 home runs all season, hits three of them in one game, two off the best pitcher in the world, Justin Verlander, to etch his name in the annals of baseball history with the likes of Ruth, Reggie, and Pujols.
Barry Zito, who has a 4.47 ERA since signing a $126 million deal with the Giants, suddenly becomes Sandy Koufax in the postseason and outduels Verlander in Game one. Hunter Pence posts a .671 OPS with the Giants this season after his trade from the Phillies, posts a .179 average in the NLCS, then triple-hits a baseball, helping lead an improbable comeback series win over the Cardinals.
So to say you want the Phillies to be like the Giants is to say you’d like healthy players for most of the season, a dash of luck, and a hint of clutchitutde.