A Giant Hole- SF Takes a 3-1 Lead in the NLCS
With three games to go in the regular season, the San Francisco Giants held a two game lead in the NL West over the San Diego Padres. Coincidentally, these two teams would square off in the final three game set of the year. The Giants held the series at home, needing just one win to clinch the division. They played out the drama clinching on the last day of the regular season.
This same situation faces San Francisco now in the 2010 NLCS; they hold a 3-1 series lead after the 6-5 win last night. They need just one win to clinch their first pennant since 2002.
Game 4’s in a best of seven series are always fascinating. When you get to a Game 4, normally you see the staff’s number four starter. Obviously, these guys are usually your fourth best pitcher on the staff. You’re playing with house money if your starter goes five innings allowing two runs or less.
All facets of both teams were showcased in this particular Game 4; the ENTIRE bullpen, small ball, defense, managerial decisions, clutch hitting and basestealing . I mean, this game had it all. Well, all besides a home run.
I know from a Philadelphia perspective the two main things people will be talking about is why Halladay didn’t start, or why Oswalt pitched the 9th. I don’t want to go in depth on that, because Philadelphia had chances to win this ballgame and couldn’t come through.
That eighth inning just jumps out right away. Howard leads off with a double, then Werth brings him home with a double. With a man on 2nd and less than two outs, Werth did not score. Jimmy Rollins couldn’t get him over to third, and both Francisco and Ruiz struck out.
This Philadelphia offense scores in bunches, it’s their motto. Just look at the top of the fifth, they put up four. Yes, Jimmy Rollins should’ve gotten Werth to third, but this is something the Phillies have always struggled in. Their offense doesn’t manufacture as many runs as they should.
There were so many great baseball plays made tonight. The Rowand assist from center to Posey was huge. That was a rope from Rowand, and Posey made a fantastic play. Posey in one motion took Rowand’s throw on a short hop and tagged Ruiz.
(Posey applies the tag on Ruiz)
Ruiz showcased his arm in the bottom of the eighth with a dart to second to nab the attempted base-stealer Torres.
As for the bullpens, the Giants bullpen pitched much better. The starting pitchers, Blanton (Phi) and Bumgarner (SF), both went 4 2/3 innings. Blanton left with a 4-3 lead. In the final four innings (6-9), the Giants outscored Philly 3-1.
(Blanton goes 4 2/3)
The only San Francisco reliever that looked shaky last night was Casilla. He relieved Bumgarner in the fifth. He got hurt with that hanging slider to Polanco. Polanco laced it into the left field gap for a double that scored two.
Chad Durbin struggled for the Phillies in the bottom of the sixth. He had trouble with his control, walking two. Sandoval got the big hit in the inning, doubling to put the Giants back on top 5-4.
As I referenced earlier, Sergio Romo came on for the Giants in the eighth and came up huge. He threw six consecutive, tight, spinning sliders to Francisco and Ruiz to strike them out.
Brian Wilson made short work of the Phillies in the ninth.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Giants established their small ball superiority over Philadelphia with Uribe’s game winning sac-fly in the ninth.
(Huff scores the game winning run)
As a fan, I don’t really know what to make of this series. The Giants have won the two, one-run contests in Game One and now Four. The Phillies won Game Two decisively, while San Francisco did the same in Game Three.
The one positive that I did see from this game was that the Phillies bats swung the stick better. Can they continue their success tomorrow against Lincecum?
Just to throw in something, the Giants and Phillies played six times during the regular season. (of course three games in each city) On the final game of the three game regular season series in San Francisco, the Phillies faced Tim Lincecum in the third game. This was the game which Lincecum threw eight dominant innings. Brian Wilson then went on and blew the save. The Phillies picked up the win after losing the previous two to San Francisco in that series. As for the three game set in Philly, the home team (this time Philadelphia) decimated the Giants the first two games. San Francisco would go on to win the third game of the set.
All in all, you can’t discount the Phillies. They’re the Phightin Phils for a reason. As for this series, I’m not sure what to think. If the Phillies can get the game tomorrow, the series shifts back to Philadelphia.
It’s really an interesting dynamic to have the 2-3-2 series that MLB has. The NHL and NBA have 2-2-1-1-1 series besides the NBA Finals, which is a 2-3-2. Philadelphia capitalized in the middle three home games, sweeping on both instances, to capture the 2008 World Series and the 2009 NLCS. San Francsico now has a chance to dispatch Philadelphia by sweeping the middle, three game home set.